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Vinegrowing Course Day 3

Posted on 2019/02/10 21:51:57 (February 2019).

[Monday 4th February 2019]
Down to Haywards Heath / Scaynes Hill for day 3 of my vinegrowing course.

Today the topics we covered in the morning theory session were root stocks, vine nutrition and vine propagation.

The most famous reason that vines in Europe are grafted onto root stocks is of course resistance to phylloxera, but there are also benefits in terms of influencing the vigour of the vine and, relatedly, adapting to different soil conditions. The most common root stock in the UK is apparently S04 (a hybrid of Vitis Riparia and Vitis Berlandieri).

Vine nutrition is a fairly vast subject area, as it effectively comes down to soil science, something people take degrees in. The good news is that most issues can be identified by analysing a soil sample, and adding missing nutrients to the soil accordingly.

Grafting seems like magic to me - it's hard to believe you can basically get two sticks of different species of plant, pretty much just stick them together, and they'll actually then grow together. We were shown this video which shows what a lot of work is involved in the propagation of vines, yet another thing we just take for granted when drinking wine.

In the afternoon practical session in the vineyard Tom covered grafting in a bit more detail, and then we did a bit more pruning practice. I pruned several vines all by myself this time, and was at least reasonably happy that the end result was something along the lines of what it was supposed to be. We also practised a second pruning system - Cordon rather than Guyot. Given the multi faceted vineyard at Rock Lodge, some vines were pruned to this system, if I recall correctly these were the Pinot Noir vines intended for still rather than sparkling wines, where, in some cases, this pruning system gave better results - I think with still Pinot Noir you want slightly lower yields but a better guarantee of ripeness.

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