A FRESH AND RAINY SPRING
Both the vegetative cycle and especially the Spring saw copious rainfall and the summer has seen some spectacular thunderstorms.
Our vineyards therefore now have abundant water reserves, which is most gratifying after last year’s mega drought.
There is of course a downside to this – for example that the persistently high levels of humidity have caused major, on-going condensation in our vineyards.
This boils down to 3 specific problematic issues: the early morning dew, the consequences of so much on-going rainfall, and the consequences of the heat released by the soil at night-time (termed evapotranspiration).
Protection against oidium and mildew
In tandem with this have come problems with mildew and botrytis, which have kept Marco super busy applying preventative treatments of bentonite (an absorbent aluminium phyllosilicate clay in use since the late 19th century) in conjunction with infusions of whey and horsetail/mare’s tail (equisetum – a deep-rooted perennial ‘weed´) which provide natural protection against oidium and mildew.
In addition, it must be said that given so much water, our vines have been so fertile that they’ve been producing an inordinate quantity of foliage; and so in this instance Marco decided that rather than removing the tips of the sprigs in order to allow our plants to produce yet more shoots it would be more sensible to simply cut back the redundant elements of the plants and let the new shoots do their own thing and regenerate on their own, without interference, given that the resulting new life not only leads to natural photosynthesis but nourishes the growth of grape clusters.
It is our feeling therefore that this year’s clusters will be larger than usual and so as the harvest looms its head he will have to keen eye on how the ripening process pans out in such a complicated year and make the ever important decision re when best to harvest – something that will no doubt be, as ever, piecemeal and plot by plot.
Potential botrytis problems make this even more complex not least during veraison, as fungoidal problems can often be latent and appear as if from nowhere in September from within the grape clusters themselves: nefarious fifth-columnists who can wreak uncontrollable havoc.
Marco therefore has a major task in hand and accordingly spends painstaking time analysing acidity, maturation levels – even at the tendril stage; but he’s been at this for a long time and so his verdict is as per the headlining title that precedes this account of his most complicated role.