Winemakers are looked on by some as the ‘Rock stars’ of our industry and fair enough too, if they have a long track record of consistently producing outstanding wines.
But there is a saying that says, all great wine is made in the vineyard.
The other saying is, “Give your friend a glass of wine and your enemy a vineyard.” Such is the work involved in owning one.
The major influence in the vineyard is Mother Nature, coupled with some well-timed procedures in the vineyard. Together they are at the start of every great wine.
Give your friend a glass of wine and your enemy a vineyard.
One such procedure is called shoot thinning which is carried out at this time of year; late October early November. As you are, or should be aware, we prune the vines in winter to our desired bud numbers. Buds are where the new shoots push from in Spring.
But vines being vines, they push more shoots than are desired. Most of these shoots won’t have any bunches on them. So all they will do is create extra shading. Too much shade can lead to an outbreak of mildew and could prevent the bunches from full ripening. They will also use water, so reducing these shoots helps reduce water usage due to less leaf area, helps prevent a mildew outbreak and produces a more balanced canopy.
The response in the vine to this procedure is to focus their energies into the remaining shoots. Thus producing stronger shoots, leaves will be slightly larger and the canopy has dappled light on the bunches. Perfect!
As mentioned earlier, this procedure needs to be timed well. Too late and the response in the remaining shoots is negligible. In this region we wait a little longer than some making sure the risk of damage by frost has past.
Which works in most years but sometimes Mother Nature throws in a surprise.