A Year in the Vineyard
Background Notes and Supplementary Videos: Spring
July 8, 2011
The original "Spring" video is still available on Vimeo, but I suggest that you just watch the final version subtitled "The Four Seasons"
Vintage variation is an underlying theme in Niagara, and in 2011 the spring was cool, wet, and slow to arrive! Since the crew at Rosewood had finished their pruning in the winter, they were fortunate to be able to stay out of the vineyard during the wet spring.
The pruning leaves three or four of last year's shoots (first photo on the right), two of which will be tied down on the fruiting wire to provide the canes from which this year's shoots will grow. The remaining untied canes are kept as extra safety canes until the risk of frost passes. In the Spring video we see Will Roman tying down the canes on a Semillon vine, and all the tying down took place in the last week of April. A tied vine with its safety cane in place is shown on the right.
Bud-burst took place in mid-May, perhaps ten days to two weeks later than average in Niagara. But by the end of May growth was vigorous and perhaps the vines were beginning to make up a little ground after the late start. At Rosewood the security canes were removed in the last week in May and the flowers were beginning to form (photos below).
The Spring video shows the cutting of the security canes, and then in the next week we watch as Will takes us through an example of shoot thinning and bud removal from a Pinot Noir vine. Will conceptualizes this process as having three stages: first, maintaining the trunk; second. maintaining the central renewal zone of the vine, the area from which shoots are developed that will be used as canes for the coming year; and third, maintaining the growth along the canes.
The trunk should be cleared of buds and shoots, although in Niagara it is a common practice to maintain one or two security trunks, extra shoots from the base of the vine that can develop into canes and then trunks, to provide a backup if the main trunk is damaged by disease or cold. The central renewal zone, ideally kept just below the bottom fruiting wire, should hold four to six shoots. The arms or canes running to each side along the fruiting wire should have four to six evenly spaced shoots, positioned so that they can grow upwards through the trellis system.
As supplementary material we have two short videos that provide some interesting information about vineyard maintenance. In the first Will shows us how the trellis system works.
In the second video Will discusses the cultivation tasks that will take place during the spring.
The main Spring video takes us through the development of the grape flowers and on to pollination, which was in full swing by the last ten days of June.
Our next "Summer" video will continue the story of the vineyard, following the development of the grape berries through veraison, and observing some of the vineyard maintenance activities of the summer.