30,000 Vines in 3 Days
Last week Redtail Vineyards completed what may be the largest single-year vineyard planting in all of Prince Edward County — 32,000 vines spread over 24 acres in just less than 3 days. The vines arrived in two shipments on Friday afternoon, about two-thirds from our neighbouring wine region of Niagara and the rest from California. On arrival the team quickly worked to transport them into cold storage, packing our tiny facility with boxes and boxes of vines. The final two pallets, after making their long journey from the West coast, collapsed as they came off the trailer. The entire staff rushed to pick up the boxes and carry them into the winery by hand.
Later that night the planting crew arrived from Niagara with a transport trailer loaded with equipment. Our vineyard team, normally asleep by nightfall, came out to watch and help find a temporary home for the large planting tractor. They stayed outside for a while, excitedly talking about what was in store.
Early the next morning, the vines were unpacked and sorted by variety — Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, Gamay, and Pinot Gris. Old water tanks were sliced in half and repurposed as soaking bins. The roots were trimmed on each vine, then left to soak in a nutrient-rich solution over the weekend to absorb as much water and food as possible before planting.
Planting started early Monday morning. The planting tractor oriented itself using GPS coordinates, ensuring that not only each row was straight, but that every single plant within a row was in line with the next. A plow attached to the back of the tractor cut a furrow for the vines, and a large wheel with spring-loaded arms placed each vine into the ground with perfect spacing. Two workers sat on either side, loading the wheel with vines by hand, as spinning discs followed behind tossing the loose soil back over top of the vines. Later in the day, our vineyard team walked each row, tamping the earth down around each vine, ensuring each one was securely planted in the ground.
The first planting day went into the evening, until the light was completely gone from the sky and no more work could continue. On the way back to the house, the planting tractor lost power. Lee sent word out to the rest of the team that planting might be delayed until the tractor could be repaired or replaced. Fortunately, a new tractor was able to make the trip from Niagara overnight, and planting resumed the next morning on schedule.
That evening, with about 2000 vines left to go, planting paused just long enough for staff to gather in the middle of the new vineyard for dinner. Picnic tables were spread out along a south-facing ridge in the largest block overlooking Pleasant Bay. We shared wine and broke bread together, with a rainbow to the East and the sun setting in the West. Our story has been one of transition and change, a winery without a vineyard. That night, we started a new chapter.