After the very mild winters of 2014 and 2015 we’d been hoping for a cold one this year and we weren’t disappointed! January was bitterly cold with temperatures dropping as low as -9 and rarely getting above 0.
The photo shows our 60 year old semillon frost covered vines and the view over to Christoph’s, our neighbour and the maker of the 2014 Chateau des Sablonnets.
The cold made it hard work for us out in the vines but it was very good news for the health of the vineyard. We needed a hard cold snap to kill off pests in the soil – this is especially important in an organic vineyard where we don’t use any pesticides.
As I said in the introduction, spring is a very busy time, the preparations for the upcoming growing season are vital, if a job is missed or the timing is wrong then it can affect the growth of the vines, which affects the quality of the grapes which then impacts the quality and quantity of the wine.
The season starts after the first frosts in early December, with pruning the vine down to one ‘cane’ (main growth stem), with 8 to 10 buds, and one ‘spur’ (a spare), with 2 buds. Then we pull off all of the last years unwanted wood, shown in the photos below. The unwanted wood is put in the middle of the row and crushed up. Then we tighten the support wires and replace any broken posts. Then attach the cane to the lowest support wire.
During this time we also prepare the ground, ploughing every other row (we leave one unploughed so we can work from the tractor on that side), fertilising and do the first round of weeding. All this needs to be done before the first buds appear at the end of the March.