We’ve got some exciting plans for our chai in 2018. We are taking the opportunity of the tanks being empty (due to low yields in 2017) to do some refurbishments, this will involve taking all the tanks, barrels and other equipment out. We are installing air conditioning so we can more easily maintain the temperature at a constant 18 degrees. Stability of temperature through the summer highs and winter lows will help us to more efficiently make and keep the wine, for example, after picking, the grapes and juice need to be cool when the outside temperatures can still be up in the 30’s, and then later the juice needs to be between 18-20 degrees for the malolactic fermentation by which time the outside temperatures can drop to below 0.
To ensure the air conditioning is as efficient as possible we will be adding extra insulation to the roof, pointing the walls (they will need sand blasting first – hence the need to get everything out!) and replacing the doors. We’re aiming to get all this done in March, so visitors in the summer season can look forward to a nice cool wine tasting environment!
In wine news, the 2017 white has finished its fermentation. It will now settle over the winter (natural cold stablisation), be fined, if necessary using an organic, vegan friendly product, and then be bottled on 2nd February. The 2017 reds have finished their malolactic fermentations and been blended – we have the classique which is a blend of merlot, cabernet sauvignon and cabernet franc and a small amount of prestige which is a blend of merlot and cabernet franc and will mature in french oak barrels.
Out in the vineyard we have weeded, ploughed and sown a green fertiliser. Ploughing is essential to the health of the vineyard, it decompacts the soil allowing air and water in so the microbial life in the soil can flourish. In vineyards in particular it also cuts up any side roots, which forces the main tap root to go down seeking water and nutrients. This year we have used broadbeans and black oats as fertiliser, the broadbeans replenish the nitrogen and the roots of the black oats break up the soil, these will be mown and then ploughed in in the spring after the broadbeans have flowered.
Ploughing Broadbeans and black oats
Whilst ploughing I was delighted to be followed by a flock of what I think are Cattle Egret (yellow bill and black legs), who stopped over on their way south for a good feed on the worms and bugs which had been turned up.
The next job is the pruning, followed by the removal of the pruned stems, tightening up of the wires and replacement of broken posts before tieing the cane (next years growth stem) to the bottom wire – this all needs to be completed before mid March when the buds start to swell.
We have a couple of vineyard projects for 2018 : we will be adding an additional wire to one of the parcels of merlot to give additional support to the young shoots, and we will be planting a new area of semillon.