Vineyard Update for September

Vineyard Update from Vineyard Manager – Rich Williams

September brought about a bit more wind and cooler temps which is normal for Spring here in Central Otago. It was rather frustrating trying to predict the weather in advance of applying our dose of solid fertiliser to the vineyard. Thankfully the day it was to be applied things were quite calm and the helicopter had it applied in just over 3 hours. I was really happy with how the guys from Precision Helicopters handled the job, especially with the low and high voltage power lines across the centre of the vineyard to manoeuvre around. And it was all done before the wind came up again, and with the bags of fertiliser gone there is plenty of room again in the tractor shed!

September Budburst at Misha's Vineyard
September Budburst at Misha's Vineyard
Budburst is well underway in the vineyard. We had leaves out on the 28th of September starting first in the House Block, Ski Slope, and Lake Front blocks but everything was in a full flurry in a matter of a few days. This is about a week later than normal but on par with everywhere else. I found bud initiation to be quite even this year considering the winter was not the coldest we have experienced. Normally a cold winter will provide even bud initiation and a warm one would be a little more staggered and given we had lots of fog, the cold was not as severe with fewer minus degree temperatures. And after a really warm day at the start of October there was some really good growth.

We have just installed the latest quality control measure which will take our storm water away from the shed catchment and through underneath the Fruit Bowl block and down the gully. It involved some very skilful digger work by yours truly though I would still not call myself a pro, I have definitely gained my badge and not one vine was injured in the process. I’m looking forward to gaining a better level of control over these vines from now on meaning there will be less work removing lateral growth.

Under-vine herbicide spraying is also underway when conditions allow it. We have narrowed down our spray strip to less than 60cm which will help reduce erosion problems we are having on the hill slopes. It will also mean we use less herbicide and gain additional organic matter from inter-row grasses and indigenous plants.

All but a dozen rows of metal pins have been removed and the crew has almost finished the wire dropping. Other jobs I have lined up for the month involve putting post caps on the young House Block to protect the bird nets and a general tidy up before we start shoot thinning at the end of the month. We will also be using our new double row foliar sprayer in about 10 days time with the vines first application of sulphur. Somewhere in there I hope to take a few days away from the vineyard for a few days on the wild West Coast white baiting. I’m looking forward to the break before the busy growing season. Thankfully no frosts to think about!