Adventure awaits down a dirt road in Kansas. In wet seasons the ponds are full, the hills are lush and the road turns to mud. Like many things in life, it takes commitment to reach a beautiful place.
My father and I planted the orchard in 1980 converting two acres around the pond of what was formerly Grandpa's pasture. I grew up swimming in this pond and have a deep love for our third generation land. I relished the chance to make something more of it. Over several years the pond became an oasis surrounded by Daylilies, a fire pit, and delicious fruit. It remains a favourite spot for summer evenings, a bottle of wine, and good conversation.
In 1988 I departed from the land to attend graduate school in Transpersonal Counseling Psychology. Like the dirt road in Kansas, it took commitment and did lead to a place of beauty. We lived near Napa Valley and often enjoyed driving through the wine country visiting tasting rooms and vineyards. So when we returned from California in 1999 we decided to bring a little of California back with us.
Our first planting was Chardonel during the spring of 2000 and Cynthiana later that fall. Unfortunately Kansas entered and extended drought which caused severe losses those first years. We replanted Chardonel in 2007 and added Chambourcin which have now come into production. In 2011 we added an acre of Crimson Cabernet, a half acre of Cabernet Doré, and more Cynthiana. Spring of 2012 we will add Aphrodite.
Cynthiana Propagation 2011
Modern viticulture has made many improvements in wine grape production and we are excited at the new varieties and what they may mean for Kansas producers. Despite the advances, grape growing remains largely unchanged over thousands of years. Yes, it can be done bigger and faster, but there is something very soothing about spending time among the vines just as vintners have for centuries. Working with the rhythm of the seasons, listening to the sounds of nature while watching the vigour of the vines is a reward in and of itself.
This year we are adding a trickle irrigation system. Since we are off the electrical grid, this has been no small task. While austerity deepens the character of the grapes, the added water during the hot days just before harvest will help hold the berries as they ripen.
Like the trees and vines, we have put down deep roots on this land growing ourselves in equal proportion to our undertaking. The land has taught us the value of staying in the moment -- Chop Wood, Carry Water -- as one of my favourite books describes it.It's a ground call. Adventure awaits down a dirt road in Kansas and we are very happy it found us.
If your looking for a good read, I hope you'll curl up with my book "The Coyoté Oak: Burgeoning Wisdom." It's a spiritual adventure story inspired by the land. I guess things happen when you listen to the sound of nature.
We hope you'll come and grow with us.
Carlisle & Geralyn Bergquist