Planting Mourvedre Cuttings
The sight of tiny, neatly stacked bundles of cuttings taught us our first lesson about Enz Vineyard Mourvedre. The piles were much smaller than we expected.
Ruben had asked vintner Russell Enz to give us vine cuttings containing five buds each. Upon examination, each tiny stick did contain five buds, but they were twice as compact as we are accustomed to seeing with Syrah.
Ruben suspects that because Mourvedre buds so late, it naturally plays catch up through the season. Rather than growing tall shoots with evenly spaced buds, Mourvedre grows squat, cramming more buds tighter together. The vine can then quickly grow leaves and shift attention to ripening fruit before the return of cold weather.
A More Precise Cuadrilla
La Cuadrilla must precisely dig a shallow hole, place the cutting in, and then loosely cover the base with dirt. Ruben mandates three buds buried in dirt to grow roots, while two buds need daylight to allow for growth of canopy and eventually fruit. Lastly, a plastic sheath shelters the delicate buds from the wind and elements.
With short Mourvedre sticks, our crew members have barely an inch of margin. Surgically, the crew patted the dirt down just below the second highest bud. This February, we repeated the process 36,000 times.
Over the years, Ruben and the crew have built up a tremendous sense of pride in the ability to make vines flourish. We have come to expect over a 98% take rate when we plant or graft a new vineyard. The combination of the short budwood sticks and the fact that Ballard Canyon is on the edge of being too cold of a climate for Mourvedre – the short Mourvedre sticks certainly present a more difficult challenge. Any vine that doesn’t take will be replaced by a new stick next year, cut from the successful growth of neighboring vines.