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September 23, 2005

Tough Going

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Have you ever looked at a tree growing out of a crevice in a rock (sometimes over a near-vertical cliff face), forcing space for its existence and wondered about the drive for life?

At Stormhoek, we have hundreds of little vines rooted in the broken shale soil on the upper reaches of a 40 degree steep slope. These vines struggle to find moisture and nutrition among the stones and grow very slowly.

Some of these vines will only reach and grow along the bottom wire of the supporting trellis system this spring when they will be 6 years old. Next year, if all goes well, they will have their tiny first crops.

Now that these, our hardiest vines, have reached the first target wire, I want to follow their progress with a digital camera.

I will take you through the next few months, giving you a supporter’s view as we watch one tough customer grow her spring foliage, try to produce her first grapes and then ripen them.

I should add that 99.9% of all of the vines in the world are planted in soils that allow them to grow to mature height and produce a small crop in 3 years. They become fully productive members of the wine-producing, grape-bearing vine family during the following year, producing many pounds of grapes per vine.

Our struggling little lady will probably only reach maturity at 8 years and will always produce less than the average.

If you get to visit us at harvest time, you’ll be able to taste the intense, vibrant flavor that the grapes of slow-growing, long-living vines have. Then you’ll know why we do it.

Posted by graham knox at September 23, 2005 8:50 AM

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