Friday, 30 March 2012

Were Going Biodynamic!

Horn Manure (Preparation 500) 

Alex thinks I've gone crazy but we've taken the plunge anyway and gone biodynamic!

Biodynamics is  sort of organics plus. Like organics, it excludes the use of artificial chemicals and encourages the use of composts and manures. However it also promotes the holistic interrelationships between the soil, the plants and animals, as well as the more subtle rhythms associated with the moon, the sun and the planets.

Special manure and herb based preparations are applied to the vineyard to enhance and stimulate microbiological life in the soil and improve fertility. We sprayed our first preparation last Monday which included Horn Manure (500) and Barrel Preparation, which is made from fermented cow manure to which is added small amounts of basalt meal and ground egg shells as well as the herb preparations of yarrow, chamomile, dandelion and valerian flowers, oak bark and stinging nettle. Later in the year we will spray Horn Silica (501).

Many famous vineyards throughout the world have adopted the biodynamic approach, including Coulee de Serrant, Domaine de Romanee Conti, Domaine Laflaive, Beaux Freres in Oragon and Henschke in Australia. In Burgundy alone there are more than forty biodynamic estates.

By going biodynamic we believe that we are encouraging the natural terroir of the land, which will give the wine its own special character, as well as taking another step towards sustainable viticulture and wine making.

Friday, 23 March 2012

Gary and the Frost Killer vs Jack Frost

Gary and the Frost Killer

Our latest piece of armoury in the war against Jack Frost is now ready for action!

Gary has converted and old corn dryer machine so that it continually sucks in huge amounts of cold air at ground level and shots it skywards. This will hopefully create enough air movement in the lowest part of the vineyard to fight off the worst of potential frosts.

The Frost Killer will be used with our other frost prevention equipment which comprises a FrostGuard machine, which blasts warm air around the vineyard, and hundreds of boujies (French for candle) which are paraffin heaters which we put in the rows near to the vines.

The warm weather at the moment means that we are likely to get bud burst  in early April, following which we will have to be ready to get up in the middle of the night to fight off Jack Frost.

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Alex loves pruning!

Double Guyot pruning

The main task in the vineyard during winter is pruning which has to be done by hand. We now have 21,000 vines to prune but fortunately Alex loves the job. Since December she has been sniping away with the help of her partner Cliff and some casual workers. I'm feeling very guilty as I've been in Australia for the last 6 weeks on a combined holiday and work trip.

Pruning this year is taking a bit longer as we have some trunk disease in the vineyard. To help prevent this from spreading we have decided to sterilise the secateurs between vines and also spray all the pruning wounds with Trichoderma which helps to heal the wounds quickly.

The pruning is now complete and we have started to tie down the canes to the fruiting wire. Those most susceptible to frost will be left until the end in the hope that by leaving them higher will make them less vulnerable. We have also left the canes a little longer as initial bud burst tends to occur at the end of the cane. We will prune the canes again to around 6 buds once the danger of a spring frost has gone at the end of April.

Thursday, 8 March 2012

Lower alcohol wines are cool!

In research commissioned by German wine trade fair Prowein, significant minorities of wine drinkers in the US, China, Germany and the UK said their ideal wine would have less than 12% alcohol.
In Britain, 22% said their ideal wine was 10.5% or less, with similar numbers in Germany and the US saying the same. The preference for lower alcohol is most marked in the younger generation. In Britain, 27% of the 18-39 age group said that their preferred strength was 10.5% or less.
Our first wine, a still Rosé, will be released later this year with an alcohol content of just 11%. Next year we will aim for the 10.5% level to meet what we also believe is a growing demand for lower alcohol wines.