Returning to Sardinia
I arrived in Sardinia after a harrowing series of flights, missed connections, and a lost (then found) suitcase. Just in time for Capodanno (New Year’s Eve), I reunited with my love. It’s been almost a year since we’d been together, which made our reunion all the more special. We’ve been going through the process of getting my husband’s immigrant visa, which was grueling to say the least. For those of you not in the know on our little love story, you can learn how it started here.
Returning to Sardinia for the 4th or 5th time was still as special as ever. Though I feel like I’ve grown so much since first arriving on this tranquil island to meet my future in-laws in 2018 without a grasp on the Italian language to rely on for communication. We connected nonetheless through food and wine, of course. But this time around, it really feels like a homecoming.
The Vineyard Planting Adventure Begins
Our vineyard planting journey began with an unexpected challenge. We have around 4,500 fewer plants than requested thanks to mother nature. Our vines were grafted onto American rootstock in a process similar to this. Since the growing season was unseasonably warm and dry, we had a less successful uptake of the grafting process.
For the rootstocks, we selected a new type of rootstock call Series M, the result of a study from the University of Milan which sought to develop rootstocks more acclimated to high temperatures. Since it’s a newer type of rootstock, it’s expected to have a lower rate of success for grafting and laying roots in the soil. For example, every five out of ten plants take to the soil and/or graft successfully. Whereas other types of rootstock like 110R and 1103P, which we also ordered, have a higher rate of success. Something closer to 90% according to Marco. We collected the cane clippings in 2021 for the grafting process. Vivai Cooperativi Rauscedo (VCR), one of the biggest producers of grafted vines in the world, completed the grafting process for us throughout 2022.
Marco spent the first weeks of January getting logistics situated, including getting a quote for irrigation installation, organizing vine shipment from the mainland in Italy, sourcing posts for the vines from friends in the business, ordering the remaining wires and end posts, and researching electric fencing we’ll need to keep the wild boars out.
Our Vineyard Sites
We’ll be planting our vineyards on two properties, both owned by Marco’s family.
The Mountain Site
One is situated up in the mountains with a spectacular view looking down on the village of Anela (where his family is from) and the expansive, green valley with rolling hills in the distance below. Our mountain site will be planted mainly with different clones of Arvesiniadu. It’s much cooler up here and will preserve freshness and aromatics of this variety beautifully.
Somehow I always forget how absolutely breathtaking the view is from here. We now have 5 donkeys who have been keeping the terrain clean for us. On this visit, they were quite excited to see me and followed me around as we walked the slopes determining the best exposition for the vines. Visiting that mountain site surrounded by donkeys with the sun peeking out from behind wisps of clouds highlighting the heavenly view below, I felt truly at peace. As if I was exactly where I was meant to be at that moment. Nature has a wonderful way of grounding us in the present and that’s one of the many reasons why I love wine so much.
The Valley Site
The other vineyard planting site is situated in the valley at the foot of the slopes leading up to the village and mountains to the north. This property is just as beautiful surrounded by mountains on one side with rolling green hills dotted with flocks of grazing sheep on the other. This site will be much hotter than the other in the mountains and is where we’ll plant most of our two red varieties: Cannonau and Bovale Sardo.
We spent one weekend cleaning up the terrain of the valley site. This property has been in Marcos family for 50 years and abandoned for about 40. There was a ton of pesky overgrowth and clean up that we’ve just about completed. We now need to finish enclosing that vineyard site with a fence.
However, our planting preparation has been put on pause due to a serious, weeklong cold front that passed through Sardinia bringing heavy snow along with it. Our mountain site is completely covered in about 15-20 cm of snow currently with more snow on the way. Snow on the valley site has mostly melted off. However, now we’re still getting heavy rains there. Needless to say, we’ll need to wait at least 2-3 more weeks, if not more, for the ground to dry out enough to be able to plant anything. Today is January 25, 2023. When I asked Marco yesterday, he said we’ll likely be planting around the last week of February!
I’ll report back with more updates on our vineyard planting adventure soon.