Tuesday, 27 July 2010

Time for Trellising

Today marks the start of our last big job of the season, installing the trellising system for the vineyard. This is the framework needed so we can train the vine into the right shape, helping to get the best out of each vine by maximizing sun exposure whilst also aiding mechanization. It’s going to take about 3 weeks to complete and for once, much to my satisfaction, we have other people to do this!

We have chosen to use metal post, which although are slightly more expensive, do last a good 25 years, which is re-assuring. And because of our hard, flinty ground, they're much easier to put in than wood.

As for the vines, well they have had a tough few months of it with the serious lack of rain, and pretty much stopped growing for a while. Thankfully the last couple of weeks we have seen some moisture and the tips have started growing again.

So far it is shaping up to be a good UK vintage for established vineyards, although not so great for the new plantings, but they should have it easier next year. It’s also been pretty hot out in Bordeaux as well, with people already bigging up the vintage. But there is still a long way to go, and as we have seen many times before, always comes down to the autumn!

We also enjoyed an English sparkling wine tasting on Sunday, after helping my mum and Cherry label their very first vintage of Wyfold - the sparkling produced from their own 1 hectare plot - made at Ridgeview in West Sussex.

We tasted all the top names from the industry, Nyetimber, Ridgeview, Chapel Down etc. This was the first chance to taste all these wines together, along with Wyfold and Theale vineyard. I was amazed by the different styles of each wine, and it was quite clear that they were not Champagne, but I don’t mean that in a bad way. Such diversity was great to see, and made me wonder how ours would eventually turn out.

I was once told that sparkling is the ultimate expression of Terroir, mainly because they are all made in exactly the same way, so any differences are down to the vineyard site. In Champagne this is hidden as most are blends from many sites and often years, but this is not the case for many UK wines, which maybe a good thing and a point of difference.

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Friday, 9 July 2010

A holiday and rain at last

After a pretty solid 3 months work to get our vineyard up to scratch, Kaye, Alfie and I have managed to get away for a week to relax, catch up on sleep and literally do nothing! Our destination is the truly wonderful Coniston in the Lake District, a place where no matter what the weather, we can truly unwind.

Of course it was also the place where we got married exactly 2 years ago. So we have spent some time reminiscing and realising we had done quite a bit in the two years since then! A year in the Bordeaux vineyards and then coming back and setting up in the UK. Sometimes things move so fast you never have the time to sit back and take it all in!

While the sun keeps shining down south, it is cool and rainy up here. Normally that would annoy me, but it’s actually a nice respite from the heat. It seems like it’s pretty hot out in Bordeaux as well at the moment, so everywhere except here. If only vines liked cold, wet weather this place would be perfect. So it made me laugh when I heard they might have to have a hosepipe ban around here next week!

Anyway back to the South on Sunday, and then straight into the vineyard to tie the now very long vines onto the stakes.

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Thursday, 1 July 2010

Boys and Their Toys

I have just spent a solid 5 days on the tractor testing out the new vineyard equipment. I spent many hours mulling over what machines to buy to do the best job on our vineyard. I had already decided that I was going to inter-vine cultivate instead of using weed killer. This can be very dangerous with young vines as the wrong set-up can murder a lot of vines. This is the reason why I used thick wooden stakes instead of metal or bamboo, as these others would simply fall over and kill the vine.

My inter-vine cultivator of choice is the German brand Clemens, which I tested in Bordeaux last year and loved. I said I’d accept being spanked by their football team just as long as their machine worked, which they duly did……… but thankfully the cultivator worked a treat.

With all this sunshine the weeds really had taken control and the vines needed some breathing space. I have decided to leave a 1m strip of green cover between the rows to prevent erosion and help soil structure. So after using the cultivator and the mower, the vineyard is looking pretty smart these days! This should help them continue to grow up the post and make the most of what little water there seems to be at the moment. Overall I couldn’t be happier with the way things have gone so far (touching lots of wood!)

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