Vine Managers Wairarapa Ltd, Nick Hoskins’s company, manages the viticulture for numerous vineyards in Wairarapa including Redbank, liaising with owners and winemakers. Nick’s son Rowan looks after Redbank Estate, and at the moment he has about 12 people out here pruning the grapes.
It’s a nice time for viticulturists, because they think about each vine, its health, its shape and structure, and what they do now will affect the grapes each vine bears next summer. Bear in mind this journal is not written just for those who know everything about grapegrowing and winemaking, but also for people like us, curious to learn more.
So this afternoon I went out and had a chat with Sean, Rowan’s cousin, about what he’s doing. Here’s a picture of an unpruned pinot noir vine:
The knuckles on our vines, where the canes start sprouting, are a little low because we started off with low wires to enhance ripening, closer to the stones. But this was a nightmare for pickers – it’s murder on your back – so we’ve raised the wires. Pruning removes the cordons – the old main fruiting canes from last year. Then you choose two new canes for cordons, trim them up to about eight to 10 buds, make them flexible then wrap them around the wire and tie. The extra canes are trimmed away.
Then, to keep the vine healthy, they are painting fungicide on the wounds to banish the nasties.
Here’s a pruned pinot gris:
And here’s a picture of Taja, our 15-year-old arthritic chocolate labrador, who follows me everywhere and insisted on having her good side photographed: