Vineyard Blog – Sept 2019
Pruning has finally finished with the last vines trimmed and wrapped down at the very end of August. The early season varieties – Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris – will start to show leaf in the first week of September and by the end of the month, the whole vineyard will have a green tinge signalling the beginning of a new season.
September is always a nervous time for grape growers as this is when the new growth is most exposed to the risk of frost. The most severe spring frosts, 1997 and 2006, have occurred after dry winters. This year we have had plenty of winter rain, the soil is fully wetted up and the general feeling amongst most growers is that spring 2019 will not be remembered for frost. We will wait and see!
Phylloxera management continues to be an ongoing issue. Helen and Joey Estate was initially planted with 60% of the vines grafted onto phylloxera tolerant rootstocks. Since it was first detected at HJE in spring 2015 phylloxera has slowly taken hold in the areas with ungrafted vines. This winter 2000 heavily infected vines were removed, and their replacements will be planted in late September when the ground is starting to warm up. (For the technically minded, we will be planting Pinot Noir, clones MV6 and 667, grafted onto rootstock Teleki 5C.) Further vine removal and replanting are planned for years 2020 and 2021.
The other major planting project at Helen and Joey is the cherry orchard. In early September 500 trees will be planted to complement the 2300 trees planted last year. The first crop is anticipated in spring 2021 and when at full maturity the orchard will be producing beautiful cherries from mid-November until early January. I can’t wait!
Growing season 2019/20 will also be the year when our young Cabernet Franc vines produce their first crop. Planted in September 2017, the vines have grown very well with little input from vineyard staff. They have received very little irrigation and have been encouraged to develop strong root systems and to find their own water. It is believed that this will help the vines to produce very high-quality grapes for many years to come.
That’s all the news for this month, the sun is shining and there is work to be done outside. Until October lets hope for a frost-free month.