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Tales from the Shale - Vineyard Journal May 11, 2018

May 11, 2018 -- BIO-SPRAY / VINEYARD SAUCE
Written by Autumn Stoscheck (Instagram: @myvineyardyear)

First bio spray of the year at Forge Cellars. I call it Vineyard Sauce because it smells like Thai fish sauce. While the winemaker's fermentations are done in beautiful French oak barrique, the vigneron's fermentation is taking place in recycled plastic barrel. After 4 weeks in the cellar, my brew of Effective Microbes is ready to spray on the vines. These microbes have been selected for their ability to contribute to plant and soil health. Sort of like a probiotic for the vineyard. Also in the mix, organic fermented fish from a family farm in North Carolina. This contains essential fatty acids which the microbes need, as well as nutrients for the vines. Farms rarely post pictures of spraying on their social media...consumers might be shocked at the behind the scenes look at chemical agriculture. But I am posting this picture because my bio spray is a joyful occasion. As a mom, I love cooking healthy food for my children with high quality ingredients. As a farmer, I feel like I am doing the same thing for my plant children. As a caretaker of this vineyard, I get to be there when the sun rises over the Hector backbone on this glorious day in early May!

Tales from the Shale - Vineyard Journal Apr. 23, 2018

AutumnStoscheck.jpg

Have you met Autumn Stoscheck?  She's the powerhouse behind Eve's Cidery, farmer extraordinaire, orchardist turned vigneron, and generally just a badass lady.  Autumn is on sabbatical with the cidery and working with us to develop our biointensive home farm.  Her methodologies and holistic approach to the land echo the philosophies of Forge and Saint Cosme, while also bringing a unique perspective to the mix.

Throughout the season we will share some highlights from the vineyard, and bring you along to explore the terroir of our site.


April 23, 2018 -- MAKING BIOCHAR
Written by Autumn Stoscheck (Instagram: @myvineyardyear)

#1 Vine prunings from 3 acres of 3 year old vines, the pit, and my fire starter. I dug this pit in 2 hours with a front loader on a little Kubota and hand held hoe. It's cone shaped, 3' deep in the center with a 6' radius up top.

#2 Started a very hot fire with scrap wood from old pallets.

#3 When it was raging, I began adding the prunings. The trick is to continue to add as much fire as possible with out smothering it.

#4 Fire burns twice, first making charcoal, then ash. The cone prevents air from reaching the bottom of the fire, leaving behind the charcoal. The fire is so hot it makes no smoke, only steam. The pit was full when I threw the last of the vines on the fire.

#5 Luckily our sprayer only uses organic certified materials, so I had a convenient method to pump the 100 gallons of water that the fire required to quench.

#6 Apx 200 gallons of high quality, uniform biochar ready to inoculate and add to our compost pile to be returned to the vineyard.

Putting the Ducks to Work

We are big advocates of biodiversity on our growing farm, and value the symbiotic relationship we have with our land. This weekend, our ducklings were moved from their temporary home in the winery to their new coop in the vineyard. Over the next few weeks they will learn the landscape and begin helping us with pest management. (Bonus: not only are these guys hard workers, but they are pretty darn cute, too!)


If you're interested in learning more, check out this video from a winery in South Africa that employs more than 800 ducks in their vineyard -- it's truly a sight to see.