The Weekend Winemaker – Blog
Have you ever thought about what goes into the humble glass of wine? If so, then join us on this journey of the 2018 vintage. Over the next year and a half we, the “Weekend Winemakers” will take you through the process required to produce that glass of wine.
The “Weekend Winemakers” participate in a winemaking course run by Peter Mitchell in Red Hill. The course which goes by the name of “The Heartbreak Grape” is named after the book written by Marq de Villiers and is about his search for the origin of the perfect pinot noir. That is what this course is all about, producing the best pinot noir we can. Not being a commercial winery operation we don’t have the constraints of having to produce a wine to make money. Therefore we have the benefit of producing wine for our own enjoyment.
We have been participating in this wine course since 2004 having begun the course at Tucks Ridge. The 2011 vintage was our last at Tucks Ridge due to a change of ownership. Since then we have been located at the picturesque Winbirra vineyard. This vineyard is on a north facing slope and houses four different clones of pinot noir grapes. Having access to all four clones allows us to be experimental in the winery by blending combinations of these clones to produce a better wine.
July 2017 – Pruning
It’s the middle of winter and the vines are dormant. The vines shut down during this colder period and the sap stops flowing. This is the time to prune the vines in readiness for the coming vintage. The vines are trellised in VSP (vertical shoot positioning) which allows for the best method of canopy management and fruit production. This is the preferred trellising system used on the Mornington Peninsula with a small number of vineyards using the lyre trellising system which has twin fruiting wires for each vine.
Pruning day is cold but the sun is out which you can feel the warmth on your back whilst you are working on the vines. We cane prune the vines which involves cutting back the vine so that you are left with two canes from the previous year which are then wrapped along the fruiting wire. From the nodes running along the cane new shoots will grow in an upright position which will be trellised between the wires. It is far more labour intensive than spur pruning which is commonly used however it helps to produce the best fruit.
The challenge on this occasion is that the vines had uneven growth the previous year and some vines have smaller than desirable canes to wrap down. This unevenness is believed to a legacy of a bad spray combination on the vines a couple of years ago. Despite this challenge we manage to complete pruning in record time. Thanks to some intensive lopping a couple of years ago, the crowns of the vines are below the fruiting wire allowing for an easier pruning session.
Now we must wait until spring when the vines come back to life with new shoots of green growth.