Spring is most certainly here with all of the attendant work: we have beautiful buds pushing out everywhere, bud break first started in the Sangiovese and Tempranillo and quickly made it’s way through the Rhone varietals. We had ferocious winds and rain a couple of nights ago–Phillip was kept awake by his worry for those vulnerable baby shoots, he imagined waking up to destruction in the vineyard…but all is okay! (We are still slightly worried about frost damage, but at AmByth we seem to not suffer much from this malady to young buds.)

Back to the Spring work…Phillip commented to me that he is getting much more used to everything–the “year’s work ahead” seems much less daunting, perhaps we’re just getting better at what we do (farming-wise, and read on so this doesn’t sound so egotistical). Phillip is on day 8 on his tractor mowing, followed by 8 more days of disking, we are planting the Spring gardens, and oh yes-the weeding continues. We are eagerly waiting for Dutchess, our dairy cow, to give birth (is today the day?) The 09’s are blended and we’ve been busy bottling the 08’s, we will soon start preparing the May wineclub shipments and we have some fun events on the calendar. There are many, many other tasks to move forward with, BUT! this year it all seems manageable. Perhaps we are starting to achieve the ultimate goal of Biodynamic farming: to realize the rhythm of the farm. This sacred piece of land we’re tending has it’s own rhythm, as Phillip and I do, and we open our hearts, minds and souls to become more intimate with it daily.

A new sight at AmByth is our “stirring machine” (looks interesting, huh?). Phillip saw this in a book about a Tuscan Biodynamic farm and has been waiting until the time came to erect such an apparatus for our farm. Yesterday afternoon Biodynamic Preperation 500 was applied to the soil in the afternoon after stirring it for one hour in the barrel (shown in the photo). And as the sun rose this morning we were out stirring Biodynamic spray 501 (applied only to the Sangiovese). Both of these sprays are applied mainly in the Spring and Fall, and in a succession of 3. 500 is sprayed on the soil, and 501 on the foliage. It feels good to be back out in the vineyards, to see the growth, to apply the BD sprays and teas, to hear the sounds of life. 

Yet, the threat of powdery mildew infecting our vines looms…we are trying to new tool to combat it: itself!! And where did this come from? Mainly from reading our homeopathic books–“treat like with like”, and conversations with Gilles De Domingo, the winemaker from Cooper Mountain Vineyards in Oregon (a Biodynamic vineyard and winery). We took effected powdery mildew cuttings from about a dozen plants and burned them by themselves. We then took the best ashes (about 5 to 6 tablespoons) and ground them for an hour in a mortar and pestle. We then took 1 teaspoon of the ground ashes and mixed it with 8 quarts of water in a container and shook this container forcefully 10 times. We kept 10% of this quantity and discarded the remaining 90%–we then added 8 quarts again to the 10%, shook forcefully, kept 10%…etc, etc. We repeated this process 30 times (photo at left is our volunteer diluter, John). We sprayed just a whisper of this homeopathic spray on potentially infected vines, hoping to discourage further powdery mildew spread. We will continue to spray this as necessary. And we’ll definitely keep records and share the success or failure!