It is great to have Patrick Williamson on board with this blog and a featured writer and contributor. His column will be A Note From The Vineyard. We thank him for sharing his knowledge and talents. Here is his first article.
A Note From The Vineyard
By Patrick Williamson, Jan 30, 2015
Hello my name is Patrick Williamson with Williamson Orchards and Vineyard here in the Sunny Slope area of Caldwell. Bob has asked that I try to write a little something every month to post to the treasure valley wine society blog about being a viticuluralist (grape grower) and to be fair you will also get some info about growing tree fruit or a pomologist and a little bit about enology (winemaking). This is the first time I have really blogged anything so I am winging it and giving it a shot.
I am fourth generation on my family’s farm that was homesteaded in 1909, originally it was a dairy and fox farm. When my grandfather took over from my great great uncle Henry, Grandpa decided that he did not like taking care of animals so they were sold off and he planted the first fruit trees on the farm. Around the mid to late 70’s my father and uncle returned from college and USMA (United States Military Academy … West Point/military service) respectively and started to help Grandpa manage and operate the farm. Eventually getting ownership in the 80’s. We got a contract offer from Ste. Chappelle to grow some Cabernet Sauvignon, Syrah, and Riesling grapes, we planted our first grapes in 98-99 and have expanded our grape varieties to include Viognier (vee-on-yay), Petite Sirah, Sangiovese, Mouvedre, and coming this spring planting Malbec. The farm is now being run and operated by myself and two of my cousins, Mike and Bev. There is the short sweet intro on the farm and now to what is going on right now for me on the farm.
This time of year things are pretty slow we spend a lot of time doing office work getting budgets done, making sure contracts are still good, starting to talk with wineries about what our game plan is for the coming year, and asking for quotes for the trellis supplies we will need for the grapes we are planting this spring. Mike and I are trying to get as much done before February since that is going to be a “lost” month for us with the WAWGG convention and tradeshow on Feb 10-13 and then the Idaho Wine Commission Annual meeting the following Week pretty much takes most of our time in next month and we feel like we did not get enough time to get everything we wanted done before the first crazy busy season starts up.
We are finishing up pruning apples and cherries and getting ready to have the crew move into pruning peaches, which is something I look forward to doing just to get out of the office for a bit into the cold dense fog that seems to stick around here this time of year. We prune while the plants are dormant to help reduce the crop, this is a faster thinning of the crop causing the plant to not over bear and kill itself. With a reduced crop were are trying to maintain and/or improve the health of the tree and get a increase in size of the fruit, with grapes this is not really a desired target with pruning but I’ll get into that later on when we are actually pruning the grapes. We won’t start pruning grapes until mid to late February.
I hope that you enjoyed reading this, I will try to regularly post monthly but the life of a farmer can get pretty busy and I may not be posting monthly. If you have questions I will try to answer them either in the comments or in my next post. I will also try to keep my posts to about a page in length so Bob will not have to work too hard to post my post.