What is viticulture?
Ever wondered what viticulture means? Quite simply put, it is the cultivation and growing of grapes, specifically for the end purpose of creating wine. It encompasses the scientific study of wine, and is often interchangeably used with viniculture. The birthplace of viticulture has been reliably traced to Georgia, where it’s thought winemaking began as early as 6000 BC. Fast forward a few centuries and we arrive at the growth and development of the English wine category and flurry of vineyards in the UK. We've shared a few of the ways below we care for our vines at our Herefordshire vineyard, as an introduction to viticulture.
This year, at the Radlow Hundred vineyard and across the UK, we’ve grown through the hottest weather in June since records began. This warm and unprecedented weather has led to a growth surge with the grapes, and an early flowering on the vines. Our Rondo grape, in particular, loves soaking up the warm English sunshine, to produce rich, fruity notes in our English red, reminiscent of cherries. But this surge comes with additional care required.
As the vines experience a surge in growth, our vineyard team has to continuously ensure the vines are safely tucked in. This means, they’re tucked up into the wires that encourage upward growth. This is key for a few reasons; firstly, it stops vines growing down. If they grow down to the ground, they can then be at risk of damage, pests and disease. It also helps to minimise the shading of the fruit with an equal layout of the foliage. Lastly, it keeps the vines looking neat and tidy too!
When the vines flower, we have to ensure the vines are regularly trimmed. This helps to direct the vines’ energy into creating more grapes, instead of putting their time into growing. We do this little and often throughout the season, and as with tucking in, it helps to minimise too much shade cover for the grapes.
During this season, our vines are ripening slightly earlier than usual. As we approach our harvest in September, we’ll be keeping a close eye on the crop load to ensure it doesn’t become too heavy for the vines. Provided the vines are strong, they’re able to support and continue to ripen a heavier crop. Sometimes we do have to remove some bunches though to help the vines in the final few weeks of growth.
The launch of our 2022 Vintages marked the first release of Radlow Hundred wine made solely with our vineyard’s grapes. We’re excited to sample and harvest our next vintages. As the vines mature, they’ll develop new complexities and flavour. Within the terms of a vine lifecycle, ours are still incredibly young, with many years ahead to produce delicious, fruit-forward English still wines, which we believe is the next chapter to come.