Now that our 2 1/3 acres of new vines, Petit Verdot and Moscato Giallo, are growing well, it is time to put the trellising in place. Our trellis consists of cordon wire strung on 4 ft high t-posts and VSP wires strung on 6 ft high t-post. VSP post's (vertical shoot position) hold extra wires which support the canopy and keep it from sprawling on the ground.
For these varieties we will have a t-post every two vines - two 4' and one VSP. The cordon wire is attached to the posts 4' off the ground. So, the first step is to drive all these posts into the ground. To do this, we rented from another grape farmer friend, a tractor (with GPS to keep our rows straight as an arrow) and t-posting rig . The bundles of posts are placed on the platforms on either side. The people stand in the middle of the bundles. This sound easy, but the bundle of 200 6' t-posts weighs ~1500 lb. and the bundle of 200 8' t-posts weighs ~2000 lb! Since we wanted to get it done sooner than later, we also got a tractor/loader that helps us out.
Marks were made yesterday which line up with the existing posts, continuing the whole vineyard uniformity. As the tractor is driven down the row of new vines, the t-posters yell when they see a mark. He stops the tractor, they position a post on the mark and the hydrolic ram pushes the post into the ground.
Everything works fine until a t-post hits the caliche - a calcium carbonate rock layer - which often bends the post. Therefore, each post is watched closely as it is being driven into the ground. If it bends it must be straightened and the process begun again.
As the tractor is driven down the row, even the younger children have a job. Beside each plant, a bamboo stick is placed and pushed into the ground. This will later be tied onto the cordon wire and give support to the growing vine. Once the young vine reaches the cordon wire, the bamboo continues to help support the trunk until it matures and woods up.
We were able to t-post about 1/3 acre an hour. Once completed the rows are much more defined. Stringing wire is the next project!