The Season has started! An update post Bud-burst from Vineyard Manager – Rich Williams
Bud burst is finally here on the vineyard. We had our first buds appear on the 23rd of September which is pretty much on schedule. Starting in the usual spots in the House Block Pinot Noir, Lake Front PN Abel/ 6, and the Ski Slope PN 6. From here has progressed evenly up the vineyard over about a week. Sauvignon Blanc was the last to push but this is very normal for this variety. Growth so far looks relatively even on both spurs, cordon extensions, and canes.
It was a cracker start to the Spring with warm temperatures and less wind than usual. The soil was very dry for this time of year so the irrigation was on early on some of our blocks with light soils ensuring the vines had plenty of moisture to the rootzone. Our Aquaflex soil moisture sensors help us understand our different soil types and improve our water use on the vineyard so as to not over irrigate and cool down the soil which is a fine balancing act. As I speak, rain is pouring down and temperatures have cooled down considerably giving a typical yellow look to the leaves as growth slows.
Work disbudding canes and extensions during pruning has paid off with improved growth overall in these sections. Comparisons of the different techniques are clear to see in the images below. This will inevitably give a better and more even start without the pressure of immediate shoot thinning to take the pressure. We have started removing lower buds on the underside of extension canes to ensure they catch up early but the advantages of early bud removal during winter dormancy has its merits. Inflorence position has a close basil proximity indicating smaller sized bunches for the season ahead which is what we want for concentrated wine flavours.
This last month we were audited by Sustainable Wine NZ and passed with flying colours. The auditor was very impressed with the amount of detail we had gone into and we did more than enough to fulfil our obligations towards the scheme.
Work has progressed very well with the internal roading and drainage around the vineyard. We have tried to improve water runoff from the steep vineyard faces and direct it into guttering away from the roads. This will improve erosion if we get large amounts of rain like we are now experiencing. I intend to apply a liberal layer of gravel to these areas in the coming days to permit a safer and more enjoyable drive around the perimeter of the vineyard and stop the dust blowing onto our precious fruit once it is harvested. Irrigation has been installed around Ah Foo’s hut which was trenched in under the road from a redundant water line. This enabled the first native planting of Kanuka, Kowhai, and native tussock around the old hut. Once established it should increase shelter in the area and the Kowhai will eventually encourage native birds to feed – though hopefully not grape eating ones!
We have also taken our first step towards organic viticulture. This year will be a learning year to see what works best as far as weed management techniques are concerned. While our canopy spraying regime is straight forward, it is our weeds that need to be tamed in order to take that leap and be chemical free. So far we have used the weedeater to maintain the undervine area on our blocks which will go into our top tier Verismo Pinot Noir. While this was a slow process by hand, it will allow us to undergo some further investigation into the best under vine mower to use so that we can eventually move the rest of the vineyard into that program over time. There may be many rocks to pick up and the irrigation line may need to be raised however it will be in the best interests of the soil and our sustainable environmental involvement.
So we are all on track for the coming season. Our wires have been dropped ready to cater for growing shoots. All damaged posts have been repaired with some minor maintenance to the wind shelter rows. Irrigation lines have been flushed to remove excess build-up of silt and grime within the pipes to stop the dripper emitters from being blocked up to permit more even distribution of water to the vines. Herbicide spraying has been carried out on all sections other than our organic trial blocks. Our first application of sulphur to prevent powdery mildew has been done and will look to do our second this week if the weather will allow.
Sadly we say good bye to Sue who has been with us for 2 years now and will be heading across the Tasman to Perth for a bit of a change in lifestyle. Next month we will be appointing a new caretaker to the team who will help out with some of the rabbit control, maintenance, and tractor work.
Other than that, we’re ready for whatever the season will bring.