Misha’s Vineyard Viticulture Update for December

An update from Vineyard Manager Rich Williams
Well the silly season has crept up on us again. This is one of the busiest times of year for us. I think we should have a word to our Prime Minister, Mr Key, about changing the timing of Christmas to winter – a time when the vines are dormant. That way we could have a few days off and not worry that a Nor’wester might sneak up on us.

The winds have been quite strong across the region this year. We’ve certainly found spots around the vineyard that need more windbreak. Olly has suggested some Kanuka/native shelter belts up the windy boundary fence and that would be a great idea but it wouldn’t have much of an effect for a few years. Luckily the majority of wind damage is restricted to the end bays of the Dress Circle (Pinot Gris plantings) and a small amount of tipping which we can deal with. The location of the weather station is possibly not giving a true indication of the impact of the wind so we might consider moving it. Last week the wind was so strong that some of the posts in the windbreak rows fell over and we had to support them with trailer tie downs. However we seem to be getting away with things pretty well on the most part in what is a challenging year so far. The shoots are slowly creeping up the trellis and now preparing themselves for their first trim.

Flowering has stretched out over 4 weeks this year! Incredible! Really up and down so this will probably mean our harvest will be quite varied as well. I guess it will give Olly the chance to pick smaller blocks and enable us to use smaller picking crews and take the pressure off getting it all in at once. I hope it doesn’t come down to harvesting single berries Olly, though I am prepared for anything in a year like this!

Over the last week or two, work has continued on the young Pinot Noir and Riesling vines ensuring we have 2 arms to lay down for their first crop of fruit next year. Fruit was sacrificed here early giving preference to healthy shoot growth. The Sav Blanc and Clone 6 PN on the Ski Slope has been straightened, delateralised, thinned and pinned together…I sound like a hair dresser! On wind damaged plants we have removed bunches to reduce stress and ease the burden on their road to recovery. The Pinot Noir in the Top Block is currently receiving its 3rd wire lift of the season. Meanwhile I have been closely monitoring soil moisture as it is just one of those years. Wet then dry, hot then cool, windy then calm… you get the drift. Fertigation of Calcium Nitrate also treats the girls to a wee feed as they need it.

Olly, Andy, Bob & Rich on the vineyard
Olly, Andy, Bob & Rich on the vineyard

It was great to see Bob Campbell and wife Marion here at the vineyard for a tour of the place. A really nice couple and they seemed like they were enjoying themselves. Also it was a privilege to show Felicia and Ed from Singapore around the vineyard – although I do apologise to them for the long-winded road trip to the Lazy Dog for lunch. We really need to get a Misha’s Vineyard jet boat for excursions to the tasting facility! It was also great to see Andy and Misha again – they put on a good X’mas party for the team! Also Olly was down for a good look around the vineyard in the pouring rain- they sure breed them tough up north!

Restoration work on Ah Foo’s hut has been completed and looking great. We have erected stone cairns over the eight miner’s graves where we had discovered rogue grapevines growing. Ernst has been told to put back the gold coins that he flogged from the burial site. Fortunately some well preserved recipes were able to be saved from one of the miners leather aprons believed to be Ah Foo himself. We hope to translate the Chinese language and have them posted on the website early next year.

Anyway, enough is enough. Hope you all have a wonderful X’mas and New Year.