Kevin Merrill

Kevin Merrill

With harvest wrapping up a few weeks ago, our sites turn to applying fertilizer and getting the vineyard ready for winter and eventually dormancy. Hard to get ready for winter when the daytime temperatures last weekend were in the low 90s during the day.

Our crews are off now until they come back for pruning on Jan. 3. Our regular tractor drivers and irrigators are busy reinstalling sprinklers in the blocks we pick by machine. The sprinklers are removed before harvest, so they don’t end up in the truck with the grapes. Metal sprinklers can raise havoc at the winery as the fruit is destemmed and crushed.

Sprinklers aren’t the only thing that inadvertently fall into the grape loads. I remember quite a few times looking for hand clippers lost by an employee who wasn’t sure where their clippers ended up after dumping their picking tray full of grapes.

We have had a few forks and hoes fall into the trucks, but those are pretty easy to find. If we are not sure if one of the 5-ton gondolas have anything in them, we alert the winery to be on the lookout when they dump the grapes at the crush pad. Luckily, we haven’t caused any problems at the winery for many years.

It’s good that work on the vineyards is slowing a little as my involvement in our Vineyard 4-H club is getting busier. Both Kathleen and Clayton are enrolled in broiler chicken, lamb, horse and shotgun projects again this year.

I have to admit, it is easier now that both kids are driving themselves to their project meetings. I still attend the once-a-month community meeting and I continue to be an assistant leader for the shotgun project, which meets twice a month, thanks to the generosity of the Santa Maria Gun Club.

Our Vineyard 4-H club just held its sixth annual Walk on the Ranch-a-thon, in which the kids get pledges to help raise money to buy turkeys to donate and support the local Foodbank at Thanksgiving. The event is an opportunity for old and new members alike to get together on the vineyard where we live, visit and get to know each other.

Javier Ames, my son Clayton and I barbecued chickens raised by our broiler chicken group last year. Lu Ann Ames made the beans and salad while my wife Karen provided the dessert for around 50 4-H members and their parents.

The kids and their parents followed my daughter Kathleen through the vineyard as they walked about a mile and a half on a warm, late morning, returning to enjoy a barbecue lunch and lots of cold drinks. After lunch, the smaller kids enjoyed a face-painting booth while the older kids participated in a scavenger hunt.

Afterword the kids and some parents enjoyed a hayride through the grapes to finish out the day. I believe the kids raised around $1,200 to help buy turkeys later this month.

It really never slows down, and I wouldn’t have it any other way. I hope you are able to get out and enjoy our beautiful, warm fall weather.

Kevin Merrill of Mesa Vineyard Management is a board member of the Santa Barbara County Farm Bureau, and director on the Santa Barbara County Fair Board. He can be reached at kmerrill@mesavineayrd.com

0
0
0
0
0

Load comments