21. jul. 2016

Sustainability : How to work in the growth period

A healthy vine is a very vigorous plant.

However, if it grows too many stems with too many leaves, it may damage the quality of the grapes.

Therefore we aim at controlling the vine and keep its growth at a strict minimum.

The removal of buds (ébourgeonnage)
Only buds that grow on branches from last year will grow grapes. These one year old branches are the young wood left at the pruning.

However buds may grow all over the plant: At the foot and on older branches and they will either not provide fruit or only very few and very small grapes. But they will grow into stems as big as the fertile ones. Thus the plant spends energy for nothing, which is why we remove these buds manually.

The buds are very pink just before they burst, thus they are easy to spot.

They are very soft and easy to remove with your hands.

Around this time we unhook the middle wire of the trellis to put it on the ground. This allows the buds to grow freely. In some vineyards we have a double wire at the foot of the plant to manage low stems, this wire is unhooked and put on the ground as well.

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The removal of stems (épamprage)
The Chardonnays come into leaf a few days before the Pinots. Still we may only arrive in some vineyards after some days of growth.

Thus some buds may have time to develop into small stems, before we come to remove them.

However, the proces is the same as for the buds, and the young stems are still very soft and easy to pull off.

Buds continue to develop and we continue to remove whatever grows on old wood.

It is still very easy to separate old wood from one-year-old wood. Once the stems are longes and the leaves bigger, it will take more time to check.

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1st lift of wires (relevage)
The trellis carries three wires in different heights.

The middle wire is also double, and it is used to control the stems.

As the young stems reach a sufficient length, this middle wire will be lifted and placed in the lower hook on each of the posts.

The operation will lift up a number of stems to place them between the double wire with their tip pointing upwards.

However many stems will not have grown sufficiently to stay between the wires, and they will be put back manually later.

At you move up the row of vines, you will place one wooden agraffe before each post. This helps to keep the double wires together and a miximum of stems to remain in between.

You may still find new buds growing on old wood. Please remove them, they will develop into stems with no grapes and eventually the amount of leaves will be too overvældende for the plant to feed. On top of that, a too dense hedge may allow fungus to install themselves which is one of the major causes of disease.

Why not as you are passing though have a look at your feet to meet the weeds?

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2nd lift of wires (relevage)
The growth of the plants at this time is very vigorous. Sometimes the stems have grown visibly longer from day to day.

A few weeks later, the double wire will be lifted to the second hook or similar heigth if the hook is missing.

Stems that were not caught by the wires at the first lifting, may have grown long enough now, and they will be put in place manually by gently manipulating the stem under the wire.

It is a delicate job, since they are still soft and break easily, especially after rain.

At this moment, you place a second agraffe in the middle between two posts. It is important that you separate the two plants correctly.

This agraffe looks like white plastic but in fact, it is made of bio starch that will disintegrate completely in less than a year.

New buds still develop, and when you see their pink colour pointing out at old wood, you continue to remove them.

All through the growth season, we aim at keeping the size of the plant at a strict minimum. The same goes for the weeds at your feet.

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Trellissing the vines (palissage)
Once the second lifting is through we usually move straight on with the trellissing. When this is finalized, the vineyards will look like rows of green hedges, in order, rather than the anarchy vines tend to create naturally.

At this time we want all the stems to be in place between the double wire.

Usually the important stems - those with the future grapes, that are visible by now - will be long enough to remain between the wires once they have been put back.

As we collect the stems, we are careful to place them at the wire so they point upwards and never sidewards. This is done to avoid that several stems cross each other, which may create a wall of leaves that will be too dense, making it harder for the wind to dry out humidity : Always a possible carrier of mycotic spores that spread fungus diseases.

Once the stems are in place, we spend time to separate them nicely along the double wire.

Two more biostarch agraffes are put, adding the total up to four. Now each plant is nicely seperated from its neighbour. When the stems are placed correctly, it will allow the grapes to catch a maximum of sun and keep the density of the leaves at a minimum.

We work the soils with the plough to remove weeds.

However, sometimes we may need a hand the old-fashioned manual way with these weeds.

Several passsages may be necessary to finish the trellissing nicely. Usually, it is a job of six weeks to deal with three hectares of vines.

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So we have done other things as we waited for better times, better days.

Trimming (cisaillage)
The vines will have their tops cut once per week during the summer. This is done with scissors installed at the tractor.

Once the tops of the stems have been cut, they will grow from the sides.

However the machine can not reach the lower part of the hedge, so we manage this task manually with the big scissors used to remove bigger branches.

This work will keep the amount of sterile stems as well as the density of the leaves at a minimum.

Need we remind you? We still look out for these weeds.

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