Exploring VA Wines
By Doug Fabbioli
A New Year!
The great part about being a farmer is that the work is never the same on a daily basis. It certainly changes with the season. As the cold weather moves in, the firewood becomes a priority along with propane, exposed water pipes and snow removal tools. We know the cold will come and we know it will go away in a few months. Our responsibilities are to maintain through the cold and be ready for when things warm up again.
We always have to plan for whatever job we take on any time of the year, but generally we need more planning for our winter projects. Last week we poured concrete for a floor in a section of the winery. We were making a plan based on the weather as you cannot pour concrete when it’s really cold. So the coordination between the weather and the availability of the concrete from the plant is important. When we want our concrete, so do the other folks working on projects in the area so I have to remember you can’t always have what you want, when you want it.
Part of our maintenance is to keep the roads, driveways, walkways and parking clear. Ice, snow, melting snow and heavy mud from freezing and thawing all add to the challenge of keeping folks safe and business traffic flowing. Another part of that is to keep heavy equipment from messing up the ground. We can layout the rows and fencing for a new vineyard, but ripping and post driving can get delayed from cold and wet. Too many delays can push a project into the spring when we are trying to get other things done.
There is always hand vineyard work to do but that is weather dependent as well. The wind seems to be the deciding factor for a “work” or “no work” day. We can work pruning vines when it’s twenty degrees out – if the wind is not howling. Often times we will wait to prune a little later so the vines are through the coldest part of the year and we prune after the winter dieback occurs. Also, this way we can focus on that job with all workers at the same time. Smaller operations may prune through the winter months as their skilled crew is limited.
The shop is a busy place in the cold weather. We take on many repairs and projects that we do not have time to do properly through the growing season. Our shop is multi-faceted. We do woodworking, construction and equipment repair all in one area. Oftentimes the shop gets messy since we have a number of projects happening at once and I don’t set the best example of “cleaning up behind you”. I guess it comes back to what I refer to as “housekeeping.” Catch up on the small things when you can and don’t let them pile up. Our green leaves will be back in a few months and we will be ready with more equipment working, more tables for guests, smooth driveways, more space for wine and most broken things fixed. The change of weather is a break in the type of work, but we always have work!