Silvia’s Wine Adventure – Part III (.5)

September 1, 2009
by Silvia

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In this next account to Silvia’s season long wine adventure, she reports on the status of her vines after being away on vacation…

read part I ¦ read part II ¦ read part III

I missed the last lecture in Malans at the end of June…but hey, everyone needs a vacation…

We headed out during the last part of July to go check on my vines, and to see what had changed since my last visit. I expected to see fully grown vine branches with abundant grape bunches hanging below the leaves…especially after doing such a fine job in May of stripping away so many leaves from the young vine shoots.

I wasn’t disappointed.

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During my last class, the young vines already had a few cute tiny bunches of grapes – and even more flower buds, which bloomed during the last part of May. A successful blooming will quickly turn into little berries, which grow and evolve rapidly into heavy hanging grape bunches. The familiar shape of the grape bunch is very green at this stage with hard berries…which are terribly sour.

It is important to remove the leaves around the grape bunches after the blooming stage, which gives the berries early exposure to the sun and strengthens them…it just seemed a bit cruel to strip the vines until they were almost naked. The early sun exposure will also prevent future sunburns as the skin of the berry becomes robust. Stripping the leaves also helps the berries after a heavy rainfall by allowing the wind to blow away any remaining moisture; wet grapes can easily mold. And finally, removing all of those leaves just makes it easier to harvest the low hanging fruit in the fall.

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I was pleased to discover my vines were in great shape, and the grapes seemed to be enjoying the warm afternoon sunshine. I also noticed all of the twelve branches per vine were standing upright, forming a thick green wall. This was the task of the students during the class I missed…they had to weave the branches through special wires in order to keep them upright. I also noticed they were busy cutting away the tips of each branch. A vine will continue to grow, and grow, and keep growing unless the tips are cut away. This will also provoke a new growth of shoots on the same branch and just below the tip. This new growth of leaves provides additional photosynthesis and increases the nutritional supply for the plant and the grapes.

My grapes were well cared for during my absence, and now they only need to stay away from any trouble such as extended rain or hail. My grapes just need to hang out and get enough sun and nutrition to continue growing strong. Their color should begin to change into purple by mid-August, and the sugar content should develop to make the grapes rather palatable. I’m looking forward to tasting my sweethearts during my next visit…

Continuing in September…

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