Friday, 16 May 2008

First Post - One Year In

So here's a picture of the beast:

125 vines, Pinot Noir (or Spätburgunder Blauer if you're of the Germanic persuasion) on SO4 rootstock. I was given a choice of three Pinot Noir varieties by the supplier, Vigo, and went for a type with a slightly tighter bunching but better aromatic qualities. The tighter bunching means I'm more suceptible to certain diseases, being that there's less free air flowing around the grapes, but I believe in taking risks to achieve a higher quality product, at the end of the day.

The SO4 rootstock is also a sort of all-round perfomer, as far as I know, and can handle slightly damp or waterlogged soil, which is ideal for me as I'm on siltly loam which turns to fairly heavy clay with sand about 1-2 feet down. And of course I am in England so it does rain a lot... saying that though, I did recently hear though that the UK receives equivalent amounts of rainfall and sunshine as other parts of Europe, it's just that we complain about it a lot more.

Soil tests revealed that I have fairly good nutritional components in all the major chemical areas... except for one, which I can't remember the name of now, except that dressing the soil with well-rotted horse manure should sort it out. I did experience a bit of leaf yellowing last year that I'm hoping this will sort out. As of yet though this year, I haven't got round to sourcing some cheap enough.

So, winter '07 I took a deep breath and cut all the vines down to 2/3 buds. These have all happily budded and sprouted this year (apart from one that's just got a couple of little leaves on it) and I've been going round nipping off all but the best shoots to just let one grow this year. According to one of my books, this should ensure that they all reach the top wire (about 5').

The bindweed has started making an appearance again (the plot's riddled with it) so I'm considering executing it all with Roundup soon... I bought a backpack sprayer last year and it's proved a practical, if not eco-freindly, way to manage the weeds. I did try weeding by hand to start with, but my Dad and I got through them at about a rate of 1m/hour. Considering there's about 140 metres of rows this just wasn't practical.


  1. Good luck, Phil! How far is the land from your home? And what are your plans for vinifying and storing the stuff once you get to that point?

    DavidG from BWE

  2. Thanks David. It's about a 5-8 minute drive so not far. I'm planning on fermenting the whole lot in one go in a stainless-steel container and doing the secondary fermentation in glass demijohns (carboys). I was considering getting an oak barrel but I can't be sure what sort of yields I'm going to get yet so I thought I'd leave that until later. I'm planning on building a wine press and maybe a crusher/destemmer as well... I'll have to see how practical that is later on.

  3. Well done Phil! Fantastic! May your vines grow strong and tall and bear many juicy grapes. Can you please blow yourself up. Your picture is too small - even when full size!


  4. nice mate, its looking like its coming along (except for the dead un's that is). Looking forward to that first glass of chateau reevo.

    Will be back in town this weekend if you are about.


  5. It has to be said Phil, You are such Fopp. Ha ha.

    Mate, is it something in the water or are we becoming old before our time, what with allotments (sorry, Vineyards) and greenhouses (me).

    Gutted to see your latest bit of damage though. Fingers crossed you can salvage a bit.

    Rob F

  6. Well done, nice to see another allotment vineyarder. I planted my plot up with just 30 vines 2 years ago. I have had some unexplained vine failures also, but generally coming along, my Vines are 1 third Reichenstiner 1 3rd Seyval Blanc and 1 third Baccus. I have had a small vintage from this years grapes, about 1 gallon, hope for much more next season. I would suggest a secondary ferment in as large a container as poss, rather than smaller demijohns. Wine is much better the more volume you make. Good luck with your second year. Cheers Rob from Bedfordshire