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Of Termites and Terroirs
A quiet day, for a change; crushed grapes are resting and releasing their color; AB fermentation is revving up, and we are not harvesting. There is a certain peacefulness here.But in the vineyard, Phil is make plans for a new planting to be done next spring.We are putting in 7 more acres of vines, and he is doing a thorough soil study. A smart guy, he wants to be sure that spacing, row direction, drainage, soil amendments and soil treatment are all correct to give the new vines a chance to grow evenly. So I ran into a soil scientist, out flagging locations for backhoe pits so soil samples can be taken and Phil can see how the soil changes, for his planning.We have some spots that appear very distinctive on the analysis and also some places in our existing vineyard where vines don't grow well. The scientist told me that these might be from old termite mounds, although he was careful to say that only analysis would show that. He said that the "termite mound soils" are very different; more alkaline, more lime, more salts. They tend to be small areas, and round. Later that evening, Ronald told me that other "historical" impacts on the soils were (1) areas where settlers had cleared and mounded up trees and brush for large burns, affecting the soils underneath; and (2) areas that had been used for"kraals" - corrals where the tribes kept cattle as they moved from place to place.As it turned out, our spots are more prosaic…merely areas where the clay comes clear to the surface; and they will need organic material incorporated (straw, compost, cover crop, etc) to improve the soil for the vines.