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April 23, 2020
Like all organisations, there have been significant changes since the outbreak of Covid-19. Vineyards are listed within the UK government's essential food and drink supply chain so, with a dedicated skeleton team, we are continuing to carry out our essential tasks, whilst keeping to distancing guidelines.
Pruning and tying down
We completed winter pruning of our 14,000 vines before lock-down. The pruning method we use has been inspired by the international masters of vineyard pruning Simonit and Sirch, who lucky for us, visited the vineyard a couple of times last year. to train our volunteers
Here's a couple of our expert volunteers Pat and Lee, tackling pruning pre- lockdown.
The Simonit Sirch method works with the natural sap flow through the vine, for a healthy, long living plant. We cut back the dormant canes from last year’s growth to leave behind one fruiting cane, that will produce the grapes for our 2020 vintage. We also leave two other short 'spurs' on either side of the plant, underneath the fruiting cane that will keep the sap flowing through both sides of the vine. One of these spurs will be the fruiting cane next year, so we're always thinking ahead!
Over the last month, post lockdown, we've carried out the essential task of 'tying-down' each of the fruiting cane of to the fruting wire.
And here's the result. One tidy vineyard! With a first mow of the year, between the rows too.
Bud rubbing begins!
Now we are 'bud rubbing' which is a time consuming task of removing the excess buds from the stem of the vine, the 'crown' top of the vine and from our two spurs. Removing buds will help channel the sap, with all the benefits of the nutrients from our soil towards the fruiting cane.
It will also help stop the foliage from getting too bushy as it grows, to allow good air flow through the vines. This will minimise the potential for disease and mildew, which is especially important in an organic vineyard, as we won't use any herbicides or pesticides to control disease.
Organic viticulture requires a lot of effort and people power, and it's particularly hard on the small team that are working now. But it's worth it. Organic farming benefits the soil, wildlife and the environment. It also creates a natural and peaceful sanctuary for the many people who benefit from volunteering as well our ecotherapy outreach work. Importantly, we believe organic practices improve the quality of the crop - and good grapes make good wine!
Here's one minute of bud rubbing at Forty Hall Vineyard for you...
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