Written by Matthew Partridge (Viticulturist & Operations Manager)
As winter fades and the weather starts to warm, we all start to spend more time outside, plants begin to grow and this signifies a very busy and important time in the vineyards.
The rising temperature triggers the growth of new foliage from shoots selected at pruning. This stage is known as bud burst. The small buds swell out and the first tiny leaves begin to unfurl. Green shoots start to sprout and the season is underway for another year. It is at this time that weather patterns are crucial in determining the quantity and quality of the coming harvest. The tiny shoots will shortly have clusters of small flowers and all this new green growth is vulnerable to diseases at this time. Fine, mild weather is what we hope for – it is this time of year which gives vineyard managers grey hair!! So all efforts at this time of year are focused on protecting those little shoots. To do this we begin some preventative spraying to minimize any possible impacts of disease, mow the grass to lower the impacts of any frosty weather, start our canopy management program and continue our maintenance programs.
By spraying we can ensure that the fruit produced is clean and fresh, giving the winemakers the maximum potential to produce the best wine possible without any unwanted flavours that diseases can impart on the wines.
Canopy management allows us to change the architecture of the vines. This allows us to adjust the grapes exposure to sunlight and the temperature that the fruit may reach during the hottest days. Red fruit which is exposed to moderate levels of sunlight during the ripening process have higher concentrations of anthocyanins, flavours and tannins – a good thing. However, if fruit is subject to extreme temperatures during the ripening period all these attributes will be lower – not so good.
We manage this through our pruning program and also by shoot thinning. Shoot thinning allows us to remove surplus shoots from non-productive parts of the vine that will lead to shading of the fruit and a reduction in the potential quality. Spring is also the time to check the irrigation systems, the harvesters and concentrate on maintaining the trellis systems. This involves replacing broken posts and wires and getting the vineyard looking pretty again.
In a nutshell, Spring is a very busy and crucial time in the vineyard when we will be doing everything we can to ensure that 2019 is another fantastic year for our wines.