I have a small vineyard on Cedar Creek Lake, an hour south of Dallas. I do all the work myself. It’s fun, good exercise, and at times, cathartic.
Unlike other agricultural crops, with grapevines you only get one chance every year to harvest fruit. If something goes wrong, it’s 12 months before you can try again. A lot of things can go wrong: an early or late frost, hailstorm, severe freeze or drought, insects, birds, and other animals. But the greatest vulnerabilities are diseases: bacteria, fungi, or viruses.
One month before this year’s harvest, Downy Mildew crept into the vineyard (it only takes one microscopic spore) and ravaged the grapes, I lost the entire harvest.
To prevent the three major vineyard nemesis (Downy Mildew, Powdery Mildew, and Black Rot), beginning at bud-break, I spray the vines with Mancozeb every two weeks. But the fungicide can’t be used within one month of harvest because it will taint the grapes. This year, the vines were infected during those final four weeks.
I didn’t know, but there’s another product that can be used prior to harvest. Though not as effective as Mancozeb, it adequately protects the vines in those final weeks.
I lost one harvest – no wine bottles labeled 2023 – but I get another chance next year.
The main take-away is that I must learn from my mistake, and not just in the area of viticulture. What lessons can I learn that will apply to all areas of my life?
Here are two life-lessons that I’ve learned from the ruined harvest.
- Some events are more critical than others and demand extra thought and caution. If I plan a date night for Mary and me and the dinner is mediocre and the movie boring, it’s just a disappointing evening. No great loss. But if I’m planning an international trip for 50 friends and make a mistake booking the international flights, the result could be catastrophic. So the greater the consequences of an event or decision, the more careful and obsessive I must be in making sure all goes well. It’s also wise to solicit multiple people’s opinions and critique of the plans and progress; the more “eyes” you have on a project, the better. On a scale from 1-10, 1 being “not significant” and 10 being “extremely significant”, rate every project/event in your life and concentrate more on the higher valued ones.
- The closer I get to a high-value event, the more focused and mindful I should become. I must not get distracted. I must not assume anything. I should check, double-check, and triple-check all details.
I’m currently winterizing my vineyard. Next year will be my best harvest.