12 Nov Vineyard Happenings – November 2017
I truly love this time of year. The vines have burst to life, the days are longer and that lovely smell of spring in the air breeds a life of its own into your very inner sole.
So far, it’s been a bit of a roller-coaster ride getting here though. We delayed pruning again this year to help prolong bud-burst which in turn helps minimise the incidence of frost damage as well as helps slow the ripening time down. As we are on the eastern slopes of the Barossa Ranges, our vineyard naturally receives more afternoon sun than morning sun. The afternoon sun is far more intense heat and light than morning sun so it’s fair to say that the vines ripen quicker than those on the flats or the western slopes. Slowing bud burst allows us an extra week till physiologic ripeness. The difficult part was bud burst was 1-2 weeks earlier than we have experienced in the past. This meant that many of the varieties had small 1-5cm shoots already forming consequently making pruning a touch more difficult.
The relatively dry winter has also meant that the subsoil moisture content is considerably low and although we are on average for October rainfall, the vines lacked the water refill in the soil’s profile from June onwards. We have had to start irrigation early again (much like 2016 vintage) to help limp the vines through their most critical growth stages [bud-burst and flowering].
This year we have employed the masterful expertise of Andrew Wardlaw to do our hand pruning. Under the advice of Andrew we returned to cane pruning in the Shiraz. This is the process of selecting 2 to 4 canes and wrapping them down on the vine each year. The cane pruned vineyards spread their energy evenly across the canes providing the vines with more consistent balance and ultimately better quality.
We are well and truly past bud-burst now and just today I noticed 10 of the inflorescences staring cap-fall and flowering. This puts us at least 2 weeks ahead still. The vines are still in vigorous growth stage and hopefully with our soil management system this year we will have ample organic matter in the soil to allow the vines to prosper.
I will keep you posted with the next installment of Vineyard Happenings.