Having moved to a vineyard we don’t just want to live here we want to learn everything about the vines and how the wine is made. One of our first questions when we arrived was where are we allowed to walk/go. The answer…everywhere. I couldn’t believe it as I figured we would not be allowed to walk through the vines themselves but thankfully I was wrong.
The owner and the staff here have been wonderful about answering our questions. Oh boy do we have a million more for them. At first they seemed to not understand why we would want to know the details but we have explained that we want to learn everything.
I would just like to add a disclaimer here…we are just starting to learn and we haven’t scratched the surface yet. What I tell you here is what I have learned so far. I will do my best to use the correct terminology but I am not an expert…not yet anyway. This will be a journey for all of us. As I said yesterday I am glad we arrived here in Spring.
Shortly after we arrived we saw them working in the vineyard so we wandered down to find out what they were doing. They were bending/training the young vines along a wire so that when it comes to harvest time these vines can be picked using a machine. How they know how far the vine can bend before breaking is an art. These are not common laborers.
Not all of the grapes are harvested this way, some are still picked by hand. There are several different ways that the vines are supported including some very old vines that are just left to grow whichever way they want. This is part of our learning process…why are some vines trained/supported one way and others a completely different way.
Yesterday we got a lesson in Green Pruning, which surprised us as you would think the more the plant grew the better it would be. But no, this is an important time in the vineyard for the future quality of the wine. Green pruning is the removal of excess foliage and grape bunches on the vine. This allows the grapes that are left to mature better by not having to compete for the nutrients. They remove a lot of the shoots to leave an “ordered” array, as shown in the featured photo, including ones growing from the stem. They remove the bunches closer to the top of the stem that is left as the lower ones are maturing faster, getting access to nutrients coming up the plant first. The almost total removal of these first leaves increases sunlight to the grapes and also decreases the chance of fungus as it allows air flow around the fruit. Each plant should have one bunch on each side that will each end up weighing around 600 grams, and eventually resulting in one bottle from each plant. We are definitely not drinking enough!
When you look at the size of the vineyard you can see that this is no small exercise. This is all done by hand, no tools. In my eyes these workers are artists.