My own vines! (well, sort of)

Wednesday, so another Plumpton vineyard practical session today. I was at the Ditchling vineyard and got allocated 5 rows of vines to look after for the coming semester: pruning, pulling out, sorting the trellis (including both new post and wire work), tucking in and so on. My rows are all Reichensteiner, and there are just over 70 in each row so about 360 vines in total. They were planted back in 1977 or 1978, so are now over 30 years old.

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I managed to prune most (nearly 320) of the vines in the six and a quarter hours I worked today. That’s a rate of over 50 an hour. I was quite proud of that, for a beginner, though I just checked the “Bordeaux piecemeal rates for vineyard work” schedule I saw in a recent lecture and I’m now a bit embarrassed. A Bordeaux worker is expected to be over 2.5 times as fast as me. Oh well, at least my rate compared favourably to my classmates, and I like to think I was focussing on the quality rather than the rate (yes that’s my excuse). Boy, does my right forearm ache from all that snippety-snipping, though.

The weather was fine again today. About 10C and sunny for a good part of the day (though one of my classmates did get his car stuck in the mud!)

I again learned a lot from the pruning. I pruned single of double guyot depending on the “count” of the vine. See my previous “vineyard diary” post for details. I tried to focus on keeping the vine-head looking good for future seasons, and tidied the heads accordingly. I struggled (as did my classmates) to get the 2 spurs I tried to get on each vine as often only 1 was possible. As ever none of the vines behaved by looking like the ones in the books, but I think I’m starting to gain a little appreciation of how to prune. Practice, practice.

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