Tuesday, August 12, 2014

Winter Vineyard Work

After a few months off to do other farm chores, mainly fence repair/maintenance and weed spraying, August was time to prepare the vineyard blocks for the 2015 vintage.
We started according to the potential bud burst of the variety.
This means, for us, working on the Pinot Noir first followed by Tempranillo, Semillon and then the Cabernet.
Stirls was down for a few days so we got a lot of pruning done. In the Pinot block we replaced a broken end post, re tensioned the wires, raised, mended and restretched the permanent netting as well as sprayed off the just emerging under vine weeds.

Our Pinot is spaced at 2 x1m  (a rate of 5000 vines/ha) with a unilateral cordon. This is a token attempt to somewhat replicate the system used in Burgundy, the home of this grape variety. While Burgundy vine planting densities range between 8,500 and 10,000/ha, it is the vine spacing rather than the row spacing that is relevant. Restricting the growth of each vine ie. a 1m cordon is said to improve grape quality with the plant putting all its effort into increasing flavour and colour into a small amount of fruit.
Reduced row spacing better utilizes precious land eg.in the Grand Cru vineyards of France, as well as the sunlight which would fall, 'wasted', on grass rather than on vines. But both these aspects are not too much of a concern for our small operation and wider rows certainly makes vineyard maintenance easier.
But this is where the comparison ends. Our climate (warm maritime) and soil type (acid sandy loam) couldn't be more different than Burgundy.

The cordons are two bud spur pruned. Each cordon has approximately 6 spurs.
This means potentially a vine will have 12 shoots, each producing two bunches.

Surprisingly when finishing off this stage of the project I noticed that despite it only being the first week of August we already have bud swell.
This has been increasingly occurring earlier in the season with all varieties each year since I first planted the Cabernet nearly two decades ago.
Who said climate change does not exist?

One of our peach trees thinks it's spring too!!

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