Vineyard Manager Rich Williams managed to file this vineyard report before he headed down the the bottling plant to join Cassy, Sue and Olly on ‘Quality Control’ duties for the 2009 Pinot Noir bottling.
Winter pruning has progressed very well this month. With the completion of the House Block, we have moved through the Lakefront Block, Highwire Block, and Fruitbowl. We then moved up into Block 2 and The Top Block – from Pinot Noir Clone 5 through the Pinot Noir 115 and Pinot Noir 667. The vines are now a year older than the earlier ones we have been working on and so we have had to reach for the loppers as the vines are that much bigger and harder on hands. I am still really happy with the quality of the pruning so far and we are achieving pretty much 100% wire-fill with some exception to the ‘Horse’s Head’ area by the main gate where the vines have been held back by wind and there is the odd dead plant to replace. In this situation we have laid down canes from neighbouring plants to temporarily fill the gaps. There was some physical wind damage to plants at the top of the Top Block and these plants have been rectified by renewing the old damaged cordon with a newly laid cane to replace it.
I would estimate we are about 3 or 4 weeks out from finishing before we move on to other tasks such as dropping wires and removal of metal pins. The shorter canopy has enabled us to do away with running through a tractor mounted barrel pruner and instead we have done a single pass laying down replacement canes and spur pruning as we go. We will also do away with needing to run a sweeper attachment to tidy up as the guys are keeping things reasonably clean in the under vine area. This should mean reduced costs for pruning this year with added time spent getting the vines looking up to speed for the coming season. With the money saved this year we can hopefully justify some electric pruners for next winter… or the following Christmas!
Broken strainer posts and tie backs are also being fixed as we go, but for some reason I seem to be doing most of the digging. I must work out who is breaking these and pass them the shovel!
Soil test results are due to arrive back from the testing facility in the US. This system was designed by Neal Kinsey which is based around accurate soil analysis and is used to correctly balance the nutrient levels in the soil as well as providing a better nutrient range for soil biology to thrive. Fertiliser recommendations will accompany the test results for the rates of nutrients we will require which will be spread by helicopter.
Also on the list of things to do is to find a source of water for the possible planting of native Kanuka down the windy side of the Dress Circle. I am also spending time accurately mapping the area to determine the number and situation of plants we will require.
That’s it for July – I’m being seconded for bottling line duties.