Work on the 2021 vintage began at Oxney in our organic vineyard this week. Over the next couple of weeks, we’ll take to the vineyard with gloves and secateurs to start winter pruning, removing last year’s growth from the vines and leaving only the buds that will ultimately provide this year’s fruit.
We’ll assess each individual vine in the vineyard one at a time, choosing the healthiest cane to support this year’s growth, then prune it down hard. Our aim is to leave just enough buds to produce just enough shoots to produce just enough fruit, so that the vines across the vineyard will spend the final weeks of summer putting its energy into ripening grapes not growing leaves.
As usual, the potential for quality is the main driver in our decision-making around pruning the vineyard and there is a wealth of expertise out there we lean on – for instance Simonit & Sirch. We’re firm believers in the old adage that you can’t make a good-quality wine from poor-quality grapes. So where others will maybe leave an extra bud on their canes, hoping to nudge up their yield when harvest comes round, our focus is purely on giving our grapes the best chance to concentrate their flavours to their fullest potential. We prune hard to grow better.
So, while you’re safely tucked up at home against the worst of the February cold, do spare a thought for us clipping away at our vines in our organic vineyard, all 57,000 of them, whatever the weather throws at us. It’s one of the most arduous tasks in the vineyard, but undoubtedly one of the most important.
The quality of the coming harvest rests on the work we do over the next weeks in the vineyard. We’ll finish up the frozen feet, aching arms and stiff fingers, but very content in the knowledge that the 2021 vintage is officially up and running and we have started the process towards making this year’s wine.