In the Vineyard
The beginning of spring is the start of a new growing season in the vineyards. New shoots emerge from dormant buds and active growth commences. Spring is a very active time in the vineyards and activities such as fertilizing, shoot thinning and preventative sprays against fungal diseases take place during this time. During shoot thinning, unnecessary and unwanted shoots are removed by hand in order to create a canopy microclimate that will be beneficial for wine quality. In areas where vine growing without supplementary irrigation is not possible, growers will also start irrigating during the spring period.
Towards the end of October and beginning of November the vines flower and after 'berry set' the new bunches start to develop. Other canopy management activities towards the end of spring include shoot positioning and topping the growing tip of shoots in order to control growing vigor.
During summer time the irrigation demand reaches its peak and more frequent irrigation is necessary. Growers continue with their preventative sprays against fungal diseases, normally until the beginning of January – depending on the weather conditions of that season. Berry development takes place during summer and at the end of December and beginning of January, veraison occurs. Veraison is a stage in berry development where berries start to soften and the berries of red wine varieties start to get their red colour.
Summer time is also harvest time and picking of grapes commences from the end of January. Different grape varieties ripen at different stages during summer. Chardonnay and Sauvignon Blanc are examples of early ripening varieties, while Cabernet Sauvignon is a late ripening variety.
Autumn sees the end of harvest, with the later ripening varieties harvested during March and the beginning of April. Some of the post harvest activities that take place in our vineyards during autumn are: fertilizing, disease control in high disease pressure situations and irrigation. The irrigation demand declines considerably and less irrigation is necessary during this time.
The main activity on a wine farm during winter is pruning. Pruning will commence during June and can continue up to the end of August. During pruning the vine is cut back severely and 8 to 10 two-bud spurs are all from the current season’s growth that will be left on the cordon of a vine.
Planting of new vineyards will also take place at the end of winter while winter is also the time for repairs to irrigation systems, trellis systems and holidays.
5. In the cellar
You’ve probably heard this a thousand times, but wine IS made in the vineyards. It’s a simple fact: you can make bad wine from good grapes, but you can’t make good wine from bad grapes!