Thursday, May 08, 2008

Vineyard buggy

I wasn’t going to write about this, because, well, I didn’t want you to think I was going soft, but the little vineyard buggy pictured below has been such an unqualified success that I feel compelled to share!

I’ve written about de-budding (or shoot thinning) the vines before… when the vines start to grow they produce a huge number of unwanted shoots that need to be removed to ensure a open, airy environment for the future grapes to ripen in. Physically I find this the single hardest job of the year since it involves spending about 30 seconds either crouching or bent double in front of each of my 20,000 30cm-high vines. Ideally this needs to be finished before early June, which doesn’t exactly leave much idle time… so when my parents were here in March I asked my father whether he could build a buggy so that I could de-bud while seated! And here is the result…The key is the row-straddling concept that allows each of the 3-wheels to run in the centre of a row, which in my vineyards are conveniently smooth and grassy. Equally fortuitous, almost all my vineyards are on a very slight slope so rolling from vine to vine is basically effortless. The construction in copper was merely a matter of convenience since I had some leftover from a plumbing project, and no one I know has any experience welding steel!

As far as I know the concept is unique in Burgundy, and certainly I feel acutely self-conscious in the enquiring gaze of hardened pros, but my comfort is such that I can live with that!

Sunday, May 04, 2008

Finished re-trellising

Just a quick update on progress here…

The past month has generally been cold and wet, in marked contrast to last year’s record-breaking April. As a result the vines are getting off to a very slow start so I’ve had plenty time to finish off the winter work of pruning, etc.

Indeed I have just finished running new wires in the Côte-de-Nuits-Villages vineyard, which is already looking much tidier than it did last year. As the photo also shows the weeds are loving all this rain so I’ll be out early next week doing my first ploughing of 2008. Ideally when you plough you want a long dry spell to follow so the weeds dry out and don’t have the chance to re-root. April was so wet that this was never the case, but the current forecast promises sun for the next 10 days so conditions should be perfect.Once the ploughing is done I’ll start the major task of de-budding, which will keep me occupied full-time for about a month.