I believe we have a plan. Chances are it’s partially our fault. I’ll get into that in a moment. But first a little back story might help you at this point.
We experienced an early freeze in November 05. Pretty much wiped out all of our new vines. That had us thinking we should attempt to get the vines into dormancy earlier. We stopped watering the new plants for a short period at the beginning of November 06 for this very purpose. The thought being that if we can get them to sleep early, we avoid a similar tragedy.
Apparently that was the wrong thing to do. Getting them to bed early, yes. But depriving them of water, No. It’s the desert, Maynard. Duh.
Merkin East still has decent growth in the older vines, and in the vines just slightly up from the other “deceased boomerangs.” Which indicates that it’s possible to make this work if we can get past this first couple years. Merkin South, however is pretty much a wash. So here’s our new plan.
We’re going to treat Merkin South as a test site. The same varietal on the same rootstock across the whole vineyard. But each row treated a bit differently. We have several approaches on paper that should work. everything from berming to mulching to over/under watering to grow tubing to foot massaging, etc. We have about 10 of these pure experiments which we will alternate across the vineyard. 1 through 10 then start over on 1 until we run out of rows. It may take us a few years to get it right, but in the end we will know for sure what works and what doesn’t. These are the activities of a true pioneer. Too bad it’s not free. If it were it wouldn’t sting quite as much.
On Merkin East we’re just going to go with our best guess and hope we’re right. We’ve been receiving some excellent advice and we’re listening carefully.
Merkin West is another story altogether. The vineyard is kickin booty. We had even growth across the whole vineyard, everything pushed around the same time, and almost zero winter kill. We should have some Cab Sav off these vines this year. maybe 1.5 tons if we’re lucky.
Az Stronghold Vineyard (formerly Dos Cabezas) is also well on its way. All the hard work Fabian, Chris, Craig, and their crew did this last several months has clearly paid off. It’s going to be a good year filled with some interesting new experiences.

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