Silvia’s Wine Adventure – Part II

May 11, 2009
by Silvia

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In this second part to Silvia’s season long wine adventure, she reports on the status of her vines and how she learned to properly tie grape vines using a wire system. read part I

It was the middle of March and it was cold – very cold! I spent the day wondering where that hair dryer wind called the Föhn was when I really needed it?

Almost one month had past since my first introduction to the vines I would call my own for the year. I pruned away all of the unnecessary branches left from last year and readied my vines for a fresh start to 2009. The deep snow I encountered in February was gone, but I was faced with a new weather challenge, which made my work in the vines even colder – an icy arctic wind!

We spent the first ninety minutes in relative comfort learning all about lovely aphids, fungus and other ugly wine enemies. Then, it was time to face my vineyard row and accomplish the day’s task of bending the pruned grape branches and binding them onto the lowest wire. This system of keeping the branches horizontal and tied to a wire makes subsequent tasks during the year much easier – and safer for the vines. Need rows will allow a tractor to easily travel between the vines without hurting any branches or new growth.   

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Another reason the branches are bound horizontally onto a wire is to keep the new buds all in a row and at the same height. This allows for even growth of the new branches. If the grapes were allowed to have vertical branches, then the higher buds would grow quicker and weaken the lower branches – not necessarily the best method to produce good results.

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As it turns out, bending grape branches is directly dependent on nature. The sap inside the branches begins to flow once the weather warms, which softens the wood and makes the branches flexible. The flowing sap will ooze out of the branch and create a crying vine.

Sometimes the weather just doesn’t cooperate – like this year. The early warmth during the beginning of March did get the sap moving, but the cold icy winds slowed down the sap flow and stiffened the branches. This situation makes it easy to brake the branches when bending them to tie onto a wire.

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We were instructed last month to leave an extra branch on the vine as an insurance against frost damage. Today, however, we found out the real reason – the school’s insurance against students breaking hard-to-bend branches. Certainly a professional wouldn’t brake any branches…but, rookie students…well, let me just say the third branch came in handy a few times.

The work seemed easier than last time, and the time went by very fast. And even though bending the branches horizontally made a painful noise, I wasn’t bothered too much – especially since the frozen gusty winds made me deaf to the noise.

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We worked in pairs throughout the day – one person bending the branch horizontally, and the other person fixating the wire and branch together with a tool looking very similar to a pistol. My biggest challenge was not getting my fingers in between the wire and the branch….which (ouch) I managed to do a few times. And at the end of the day, the branches got some revenge – and I literally bled for my vines.

 

Continuing in mid-May…

more about Silvia



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