My favourite time of the vineyard year, pruning is such a wonderful and important part of the vineyard calendar.
Pruning at Rathfinny started on the 4th of January, and our pruning team of Felix, Ian, David and (when not dragged away for other jobs-like blog writing) myself have been getting through the vines planted last year. We even managed to get Mark and his brother Philip out for an hours or so – although they struggled with the early start; they ambled up raring to go just as we were about to break for morning tea!
As I write this we are just over half way through the whole vineyard, most of the vines are being cut back to two buds to enable them to push strong healthy shoots this spring, and hopefully a small crop. The vines that have done well over the summer we are laying a short cane on the fruiting wire.
We’ve also had the ground preparation for next year’s planting begin, many thanks to our contract farmers, The Ellis’s and their staff, for giving us a helpng hand with (slightly) bigger tractors than are needed in vineyards.
On top of all this we’ve also had Richard Bartlett and his team back who have planted all our trees across the property to plant even more shelter belts in anticipation of the 2014 planting.
There has been an increase in news lately regarding last summer’s rain and the effect it will have on food and in particular nutrient levels in food. We’ve all had the question asked of us: how are the vines?Vines, trees, and other long term crops fair a little better than most short term crops.Although in general, nutrient levels have been leached over the past year, we take a more long term view of nutrients and try to keep them in balance as much as possible so that extreme weather events, such as last year’s rain, don’t effect us. Whereas crops that are seasonal and rotated each season have to add the nutrient they require for that season, so when something like last year’s rain comes along most growers will struggle to either get the nutrient on or predict nutrient requirements for the year. The better growers take a more holistic approach and ensure nutrient levels in the soil are at a level where they can easily be maintained.
Cameron Roucher – Vineyard Manager