I opened the curtains this morning to see car roofs covered in frost. I hurried in to my College vineyard practical day anxious to see if there had been any impact.

I heard much excitement on the UKVA forums and from people at college about the overnight frost, but it seems that most sites escaped. One small patch of Plumpton’s Rock Lodge vineyard was hit, but even that was light and it’s likely these will recover.

Frost damage at Rock Lodge, though it was minor

I spent the morning at the small on-site Plumpton College vineyard. Bud-rubbing is not the most fun job, but the removal of suckers / water-shoots is necessary to keep growth focused in the right areas of the trellis. Tough gloves are necessary (leather, not my rubber-palmed ones which are so good for other purposes but not for this) and then it’s just a matter of simply rubbing all buds and young shoots off the trunk and below the head.

Bud-rubbing the GDC trained vines at Plumpton College

After the bud-rubbing we moved to complete some of the GDC trellis construction. We added horizontal cross-struts to notches in the posts which we and others had banged in recently: a large coach-screw to hold it in place; a “v” of wire attached to each end of the strut and looped around the main post to keep the strut horizontal; and then fitting the wires onto the cross-strut.

We constructed GDC trellising, as demonstrated by Kevin Sutherland, the vineyard manager

After lunch I headed off to Plumpton’s Rock Lodge vineyard for more bud-rubbing. It’s really no fun but it’s got to be done. A modicum of variety was introduced when I also did the same job on some young (2/3 year old) vines where is was also necessary to take care to measure where the vine head should form (just below the fruiting wire) and then only strip buds and shoots below there. All easy-peasy and not great for my back!

Vines have progressed vigorously with the not sunny weather (Rock Lodge)

Then it was back to college for more of the winemaking trial I’m currently engaged with – much more fun!

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