October makes a “Cracking” start to the season. Rich William’s vineyard update

Vineyard manager Rich William’s October report.

Well, what a CRACKING start to the season!!

October has brought about unseasonably hot temperatures with less wind and less rain than normal. All this has meant the vines are enjoying some rapid shoot growth of which I have only imagined.

Pinot Noir on "Ski Slope"
Pinot Noir on "Ski Slope"

We couldn’t have hoped for more of a perfect start to the year. While our budburst was a week later than normal, we are well and truly ahead of where we were this time last year. The word on the street is that we’ve begun an El Nino weather circle and things certainly seem different.

We have had an unusually consistent bud break giving even growth on both apically and basally inclined positions. Hot weather has accelerated growth and on some days it seemed you could watch things growing. Over Labour weekend alone they must have surely doubled in size. This has meant we have been applying back to back sulphur sprays to keep up with the migration of erinose mite and to hinder the occurrence of powdery mildew and I am pleased with how well our new Hardi Zenit sprayer is performing.

On the flip side things are getting really busy. I would not have predicted that all our work would begin this fast and that we would be doing all the early season work at once! Our work is cut out to keep up or the even growth is going to give way to unevenness if we don’t act fast. We are progressing steadily shoot thinning through the young vines in the House Block and are due to finish the Pinot Noir by tomorrow. Shoots are already around 30 cm long and getting to the point where we need to be also doing our first wire lift to support the growth. While it is important to have shoots safely tucked up, it is also of high importance to ensure a well measured canopy by thinning to let light penetrate to the interior of the canopy reducing disease incidence and ensuring we have the best results during flowering.

At first glance already bunch size looks remarkably large and with a lot of 3rds and bunch shoulders. Bunch proximity is situated on the 3rd and 4th leaf and research points to larger bunch size the closer they are to the base of the shoot. Last year bunches were mainly situated around the 4th and 5th leaf and bunch size was reasonably small. So we will be looking closely at how our yields develop over the coming months and into flowering.

Great to meet Stephen Brook last week and show him the around the vineyard. We managed to find a nice spot in Ah Foo’s hut for a few glasses of wine and white bait patties on the barbie. Rudy from Quartz Reef was able to join us for a bit before whisking Stephen away for another adventure around the Bendigo area before he was off up to the Air NZ awards to preside the judging panel with our very own Mr Masters.

So it seems there is a bit of work ahead and less time relaxing with wine and patties… Rich