Vineyard Workers Tilling a Cover Crop

While preparing my morning coffee, I was distracted by a motorized hum from the vineyard behind our house. Looking through the kitchen window, I spotted a dust cloud drifting skyward from the far hill. Then an orange tractor emerged from the cloud, rocking its way through the trellised vines. As I watched, tall cover crops of legumes, clover, vetch, and wild radish vanished under the tractor’s belly, leaving only chocolate colored earth behind.

Thinking on my toes, I reached for my art bag, leaving the coffee untouched on the counter. I walked across the field between our house and the vineyard, carefully avoiding the sticky weeds so prevalent at this time of year.

At the bottom of the hill, a white truck pulled up at the same time as the tractor came to a halt. The smell of fresh cut vegetation and moist soil filled the air. I asked the two men if they were tilling the cover crop. The truck driver replied in a thick Spanish accent, “Yes, but only the upper vineyard.” He added that the lower vineyard would soon be removed due to difficulty in growing Cabernet grapes in this soil.

After thanking the men, I walked back into the field and sketched them as they cleaned the tractor and packed up gear. With the overgrown cover crop now tilled into the soil, the vineyard looked trimmed and tidy. The trellised vines arched their way along the hill in rows, and I marveled at how quickly they’d grown. What had been buds just a few weeks ago, now canopied several feet in each direction, and with leaves soaking up the sun’s rays, looked ready to flower.