Suddenly it’s all go in the vineyard. We’ve had an enormously hot summer – when we were away the temperature in the vineyard reached 35.6C , and even though it’s only mid-to-late January, veraison is upon us. Veraison, as defined by Jancis Robinson, is “when the grapes begin to soften and change colour, those on the outside of the bunch first. Immediately after veraison, six to seven weeks after the completion of flowering, the grape ripening process goes into top gear, especially in warm, sunny, dry weather…At the same time the shoots start to turn from green and springy to brown and hard. The vine is starting to store energy for the winter and the following year.”

Yesterday Rowan was doing the last grape spray, and tooting the tractor as he went up and down the rows. I was coming back from feeding the horses, saw hares scattering from the path of the tractor like peasants before the wheels of a dictator’s limousine, and thought he was chasing them away from the irrigation pipes. When they get thirsty, instead of going down to the creek, they bite through the pipes and suck like babies. But the birds, he said, were already into the vines, not eating grapes yet, just getting themselves prepared for a feast. The varmints.

So today all the guys are here, putting on the nets. As we drove through Martinborough, the same is happening all over the area – nets are out and everyone’s working like trojans. It’s an exciting time of the year, as the vineyards swing into overdrive.

Looks like here at Redbank we will have a good vintage, touch wood. We received a very heartwarming report from Nick Hoskins of Vine Managers, which opened with the lines:

“I am very pleased with how the vineyard is looking, particularly the more even shoot growth – a combination of pruning shoot thinning at fertigation. Rowan has been doing a great job of getting the details right. Jane [Cooper, wine maker] is also very pleased with the shoot positioning.”

When you receive something like this, and you know it to be true as opposed to someone telling you what they think you want to hear, it makes all the hard work, which goes into earning enough money to pay the bills, not so bad after all.


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