Sometimes you have to take the bull by the horns and plough up some of your treasured original vines and replant. Such was the case for us in 2009 when we replanted 4.5 acres of old varieties with the supremely popular Bacchus variety. Bacchus is a cross between three varieties; Silvaner, Riesling and Muller Thurgau and makes a delicious crisp, fruity white wine.
Its worth remembering that when you plant vines it takes on average 5 years to produce a large enough crop for a commercial bottling. So the first wine emerged from our vats in 2014. It takes about a kilo of grapes to make a bottle of wine, that’s about 400 grapes as wine grapes are smaller than dessert grapes.
In the photos (see Facebook) you will see the vines on their smart metalwork and the pruning from last year’s growth which was recently completed. You can see David Carr Taylor inspecting the vines in the spring sunshine awaiting ‘bud burst’ when the vines spring back into life after the dormant period in winter. Nothing is left to chance; the vines are planted following satellite technology so they receive the maximum amount of sunlight throughout the growing period. The new growth will be tied back to the metal wires to allow the sun to penetrate. Good sun=good sugar=good alcohol content.
Finally you can see Kim on his tractor giving a light spray to control weeds just around the base of the vines. This is surprisingly delicate work and cannot be carried out willy-nilly by inexperienced staff. Apart from keeping the balance between controlling weeds and not killing the vines, those carrying out the task attend a thorough training course and are personally assessed in situ to check their competence. There are strict regulations too in order to protect the habitat and records have to be kept for inspection by the Environment Agency, Health and Safety Executive and DEFRA (Farming and Rural Affairs)!
So our next big task will be to bottle the wine which has been fermenting over winter from the 40 tonnes of grapes we picked by hand last autumn. I will be sure to tell you when it is ready for you to pop in and try it….