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Cap Fall and Flowering

Vines have flower clusters with several individual blossoms that form a closed “cap”. The cap falls off during blossoming and the individual flowers appear. Measurement of the blossoming period begins when about 25% of the caps have fallen off. It can then take 5-10 days for the majority of them to fall off, depending on the weather. This normally happens around Wimbledon fortnight but is a little...

The Vineyard in June

Poppies in the Vineyard (photograph courtesy of John Powell)

The vineyard is looking fabulous at the moment thanks to thousands of poppies which have self seeded in Block B. Unfortunately they won't last for long as Alex is determined to cut them before they seed again in the woodchip mulch!

We are currently busy replacing about 350 young vines that died over the severe winter or were hit by the...

Monty Waldin addresses the second Organic and Biodynamic UK Vineyards Meeting

The second Organic and Biodynamic UK Vineyards meeting was held at Laverstoke Park Farm last week. The theme of the day was Biodynamics and Compost Teas and we were lucky enough to have Monty Waldin give a talk on the application of Biodynamics in the vineyard.

Monty explained that Biodynamics is based on organic practices but also uses natural forces (like those provided by the...

Sustainability in the Vineyard

I recently attended a very interesting Wineskills workshop on Sustainability in the Vineyard, facilitated by Professor Steve Wratten -a cockney living in New Zealand! Steve is a leading light in the Greening Waipara project in Lincoln, New Zealand, which aims to build biodiversity back into the wine experience.

Steve poses the question "How can nature help us with agriculture?" Agriculture,...

Vine Mortality

We have now made a count of dead vines that were planted last May. Overall we had a 2.8% mortality rate, with the Chardonnay faring the worse. The detailed analysis is as follows:

Cultivar Rootstock Dead Plants Total Planted % Mortality
Pinot Meunier 865 41B 24 1250 1.9%
Pinot Meunier 925 41B 33 1250 2.6%
Pinot Noir 115 Fercal 17 1100 1.5%

Chilly on the Vineyard

Gary and Philip after lighting the Boujies

I was rudely woken by the weather station alarm txt this morning at precisely 2.51am.... with news that the wet bulb temperature had dropped to 1.3 degrees and that the soil temperature was already below zero.

So it was off to the vineyard in the dead of night to fire up the frost guard machine and to light the orchard burners and boujies. Thankfully Philip...

Pearl Glands

Pearl Glands on a new shoot from a Chardonnay vine

What appear like insect eggs have appeared on the new shoots of the vines, mainly the Chardonnay. In fact these are what are known as Pearl Glands which are tiny balls of vine cells which result from seepage of stomata on the shoots. They often appear on the stems,tendrils, petioles or leaf veins on vigorous vines in warm humid conditions.


Bud Burst and the Dreaded Frost

Bud Burst on the 10th April

Bud burst is now occurring throughout the vineyard. We are probably 3-4 weeks ahead of what we might expect as a result of the recent warm weather. On the face of it this is good news but it's also a worry as any frost from now on is likely to cause significant damage to the new growth.

Last night we had our first scare as temperatures at the bottom of the vineyard...

Spreading the Woodchip

The Mill Creek Compost Spreader

Weeds can be a big problem in organic vineyards as we can't use herbicides to control them. We opted to use woodchip as a mulch which has generally proved to be an excellent solution.

Spreading the woodchip along the rows can be a difficult and time consuming task and so we initially hired a compost spreader from Laverstoke Park Farm to do the job. Initially we...

English Fizz better than Champagne?

Hosted by Stephen Skelton MW, a group of sparking wine luminaries recently met for a blind tasting of England's best fizz as well as some well known Champagnes from France. The tasters were(in alphabetical order): Susie Barrie MW (Winchester Wine School proprietor who wrote her MW dissertation on champagne), Dee Blackstock MW (champagne and sparkling-wine buyer for Waitrose), Sue Daniels (MW...

Feeding the Vines

Alex and Philip distributing the nutrients by hand

During last year's growing season it was obvious that we had a number of mineral deficiencies in the vineyard evidenced by discolouring of the foliage. For example magnesium deficiency turns pinot leaves red and low levels of Iron result in yellow leaves on the Chardonnay. This was confirmed by soil analysis which identified low levels of Iron,...

Preparing for Frost

This time of year the major issue for many vineyard managers is frost. As mentioned in previous posts, frost can have a devastating effect on a vineyard, especially in spring after bud break. Last year a nearby large vineyard lost nearly 70% of its crop as a result of exceptional frosts in May!

One of the downsides of global warming is that bud break now often occurs earlier in the year because of...

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