What’s happening in the vineyard this winter
Late September is of course the starring moment in any English vineyard’s calendar, as the most common time to harvest in our cooler climate. And whilst it may appear that life in a vineyard is typically limited to the spring/summer seasons, there is vital work that continues throughout the winter period too.
To kick-off the year’s list of tasks, the vineyard team makes careful efforts to prune the vines. Known as winter pruning, this can be an ongoing process up until March. There are a few reasons for winter pruning, the first is to help balance the vines’ production of grapes and leaves and shoots. More practically, it also helps to keep the pathways clear for people and equipment in the vineyard moving through the vines. Into March, the vines may start to show buds, and the team then moves on from dry pruning to green pruning on the producing vines.
Another item on the list for winter tasks is to check the positioning of the shoots, which sometimes need binding to guide their growth. The team will check bindings from previous years to ensure they’re not choking the branches and stunting the growth of the vines. Part of this includes reviewing any supporting structures around the vines like vine poles and trellises.
Into February and March, the vineyard team is then busy fertilising the vines and the soil to lay down a rich base for growth and production throughout the year. The team will test the soil in February, which helps to identify any crop variability and the right nutrition balance in the soil. Frost risk is top of any grower’s mind at this time of year, and there are a few ways to mitigate issues. The team will spray off any weeds in late winter/early spring to reduce this risk, on any early emerging buds.
When frost does descend, it can mean busy vineyard teams out at all hours lighting anti-frost candles to help protect the grapes during these harsher temperatures. Whilst it looks very romantic, it’s tiring work!
Keeping the vineyard tidy whilst pruning helps to reduce any potential diseases in spring. Infected plant material that’s left beneath the vines, like fallen leaves etc. can pass on diseases and should be cleared away. This is also why we keep a close eye on our soil biology, as certain fungi species can help to act as biocontrol, removing disease spores from the soil.
And if that wasn’t enough to be getting on with, the team back at base are busy blending and bottling the grapes picked the season before, ready for release to market in the spring of 2024 as new vintages.
It’s a long cycle of work to deliver our best grapes and English wine to your tables, and one that we’re all incredibly passionate about. Stay tuned for more updates from the vineyard and news of our 2024 vintages, to be released shortly.