Well, we have survived another very cold winter in The Hills. Although a bit drier than usual, temperatures have been close to zero on many occasions, necessitating thick sweaters, coats and gloves when working in the vineyard.
Winter is, of course, the season for pruning the vines, all 15 acres of them and all done manually and with great care. The success of next year’s crop and resulting wine quality are highly dependent on the quality of the pruning, truly the starting point for the next season. This year, I employed a little more help with the standard pruning, allowing me to devote more time to refashioning about 25% of the vines by removing old cordons (the arms of the vine extending horizontally out from the trunk) and laying down new canes from the 2019 season to replace them. Hard, slow work but good for the vine to improve production and quality as well as being aesthetically pleasing to look at when it’s all done!
So, once more, we have a large pile of cut cordons, some of which will be used to make a bonfire, the remainder being stored and dried and used as starter material for our slow combustion fire to keep us warm at home during the chilly days of next winter.
Budburst has arrived, heralded by the appearance of small green shoots appearing along the cordons and canes. This signifies an increase in soil temperature as we start to see and feel some warmer, sunny days. The dormant vines spring to life and we start to look forward to Vintage 2020!