Blog - wine adventure
In this next account to Silvia’s season long wine adventure, she reports on the status of her vines after being away on vacation…
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.
Spring finally arrived.
When the rain weather travels from the west toward Graubünden, there is a good chance the rain drops will never fall in Malans…or at least wait until the evening. This is the typical weather pattern in the Bündner Herrschaft and for once the weather did what was expected. Even though rain covered most of Switzerland, we were able to enjoy the warm spring sun.
A quick inspection of the vineyard told me what I needed to immediately know – our vines made it through the winter…and I did too. The vines looked strong and full of growth. The year’s early spring weather caused the vines to bud early, but the subsequent cold weather caused everything to return to normal by mid-May. But even so, some growers have compared the 2009 crop with 2003 and 2007, when everything was early.
As I walked the vineyard and came upon my row of vines, I noticed the few branches on each vine grew into bushes. There were also many little grape bunches visible…a joy to see.
Letting nature do what it wants means losing control of the vines and giving enemies a chance to attack. So after pruning and selecting two branches per vine in the winter, then binding them to the wire at the end of winter, it is now time to keep the vine’s new growth under control. read more
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. read more
Ever wonder what’s involved in growing grapes to produce wine? Silvia has. She has enrolled in a class this year, which teaches students the practical, hands-on side of growing grapes. This multi-part posting began in February with some basic pruning and goes on throughout the year until the fall harvest.
Pruning vines is one of the most important tasks of a vintner during the year. It is the foundational work for the upcoming growing season and subsequent harvest.
Vineyards can look a bit on the shaggy side by winter’s end– sort of like Struwwelpeter who desperately needs a haircut. In the same way, vines also need a trim…and the trick is to prune the correct branches in order to make weak vines stronger and stronger vines a bit…well…less strong. Of course, the goal of all of this pruning is to make the wine maker’s tasks easier while managing grape yield and vintage quality.
And so on, and so on… All of this and more I learned while studying for my WSET diploma. I even had to learn which hormone in the root system gives the vine a kick start after the soil temperature rises above 10 degrees centigrade. Yes, I know quite a bit about wine and how wine is made…but, that’s all theory, and now it’s time to move over to the practical side… read more