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Volunteers Needed to Revive University’s Valley Road Vineyard

The Desert Farming Initiative at UNR has put out a call for volunteers to help replant the north vineyard at its Valley Road property in Reno. The work is scheduled for the morning of Saturday, May 11. Volunteers will help replace one acre of nine-year old Chardonnay that struggled and failed with other grape varieties that have done well on the property, primarily Merlot and Cabernet Franc.

“We’re also planting a small section of Malbec,” said Program Director Charles Schembre, “to see how it does here.” Experts compare the northern Nevada climate to the famed Argentine Mendoza wine region where Malbec thrives at the foot of the Andes Mountain Range.

Schembre hopes with enough volunteers, the one-acre parcel can be planted in four hours.

“We’d like to knock it out in one shift,” he told GBN. “We’ve been for the last couple of weeks removing all the old vines one- by-one. Quite a task. Then we’re getting the whole field prepped and ready for planting.” Story continues below.

Vineyards at the Desert Farming Initiative’s Valley Road property will be replanted on May 11. The old vines and weeds in this 2018 photo have been removed. Photo: @GrapeBasinNews

Volunteers will help with digging holes, and amending soil with compost and fertilizer. The new vines will also need to be covered  to keep wildlife from ravaging them.

“We’ll also have some people trimming roots,” Schembre said. “We may have to install some rebar, so there’s a little bit of vineyard development work as well, apart from the planting,”

The project fulfills a grant-funded proposal that was stalled after the harsh winter of 2016-17 prevented its completion. It’s planned as a demonstration vineyard for commercial purposes, with the potential to supply grapes for a future UNR winemaking program. The vineyard will also offer the public a chance to learn about viticulture.

Volunteers should dress for dirty work, and bring a hat and gloves. There are gloves available to borrow, Schembre said, but most people prefer their own. There’s more information below, or on Facebook @DesertFarmingInitiative.

Volunteers needed for replanting:
Date: Saturday, May 11, 2019
Time: 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Location: Nevada Agricultural Experiment Station, 920 Valley Road, Reno, NV
Contact: Charles Schembre 775-682-9783 or [email protected]

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