Saturday, June 30, 2007

Wasp spider

Yikes, I don’t think I’ll bother de-leafing this vine. That object at the top of the photo (which looks a bit like a big white grape) is in fact her egg case… so I’ll soon have a whole family of menacing spiders. Great!

Monday, June 25, 2007


To de-leaf or not to de-leaf? A divisive question in the viticultural world.
De-leafing means removing the two lowest leaves from each vertical shoot, and thus exposing the developing grape bunches to direct, rather than filtered, sunlight.

Proponents cite the following advantages…

1) Improved ripening and flavour development, probably due to the increased temperature as the berries absorb direct sunlight.
2) Reduced risk of bunch rot due to reduced humidity in the fruit-zone. This is a big plus if you want to avoid using anti-rot sprays (which are anyway prohibited by organic certification)
3) Reduced risk of Powdery mildew (Oidium).
4) Faster harvest since the bunches are clearly visible

While opponents cite the following disadvantages

1) Increased risk of ‘sunburn’ – where on a hot, bright day fully exposed grapes simply shrivel and die.
2) Fewer remaining leaves to photosynthesise sugars.
3) Increased losses in the event of hail – since the leaves provide a small degree of physical protection.
4) The time and hence cost involved; I take about 80 hours to de-leaf two hectares, which if I were to pay someone minimum wage (it’s not rocket science!) would add about 0.13€ per bottle.

As the photo shows I am in a very small minority (in Burgundy) who decide that the pros outweigh the cons. To minimize the sunburn risk I only de-leaf the north (or east) side of each row and I start immediately after flowering so the grapes can acclimatize to exposure before they are fully-grown and at their most vulnerable.

One more good day’s work and I’ll be done with this job, and I won’t be sorry to see it finished! I figure I’ve de-leafed 20 kilometres of vine rows, or removed approximately 280000 leaves.

Saturday, June 16, 2007

Early harvest

I haven’t written about the vines for a little while, but in this case no news is good news. In fact everything is looking excellent and harvest is likely to be exceptionally early, probably late August. The first photo below was taken on June 16th 2006 while the second was taken today, exactly one year later. Hopefully the difference is clear. In 2006 the vines were in full flower when this year flowering finished 4 weeks ago and the bunches are now almost fully formed.The main danger at this time of year is hail damage. The past two weeks have been very worrying… big thunderstorms wandering around every other evening. So far Morey has been spared, but my nerves are frayed.

Saturday, June 09, 2007


My parents are here for a week and we’ve been busy bottling the 2005 vintage. A few months ago I racked the wine out of barrels into the stainless steel storage tanks shown in the background of the photo (left). After a couple of months settling in these tanks the wine is clear and ready for bottling. The bottles are then filled by gravity and corked by hand (below left). Of course the wine is never filtered, nor fined, nor even pumped in order preserve all its qualities.