The vineyard team have had a busy winter getting pruning completed - pruning is an incredibly important time in the vineyard as it sets up the vine for the next season. There are also many maintenance jobs to be completed to ensure the trellis is ready to support the vines in the growing season.
September it is an exciting time for us - as the temperatures increase, the winter buds begin to swell and their outside ‘scales’ that keep them protected in the cold start to open up. We then see wooly buds appear and finally the leaves burst – this is known as budburst. The spring season comes with the risk of frosts, so the team is prepared for early mornings running frost fans to protect the new growth. This new growth signals the start of our spray season to protect the vines from disease.
We have seen some progress in our efforts to increase diversity in the vineyards, with a great mixture of species now appearing in the rows between the vines. This diversity of species is a part of Whitehaven’s goal to build healthy, thriving ecosystems both above and below the ground, maintaining the health and increasing resilience of the vines and the environments around us.
The sheep have also been enjoying this new growth. They help us to keep the crops lower at this time of year, to lessen the risk of frost and to prepare for the next round of seeds. At selected sites, we have done a second tight graze immediately prior to budburst. In this way, we’re hoping to reduce our herbicide usage for the season (and even trailing a site or two without any herbicide applied at all).
Our native plantings are making the most of the sunshine and warmer days. With some big planting projects on their way, we are excited to see more and more of this on our sites.
This spring we have a new vineyard development in the Wairau Valley; the site is currently being prepared for planting which will occur in mid-October. At this new site we are going to trial some alternative infrastructure. We will be using Eco Trellis posts which are a fully recyclable, steel alternative to wooden posts, and we will be installing some sub-surface irrigation, which means we can hopefully reduce our water requirements and weed growth. We will keep you updated on this exciting new development.