Tour of Plumpton Vineyards

Here’s another in the series I am writing for a Plumpton College assessment which diaries my weekly work in Plumpton College Vineyards.

I had a working trip around all four of the Plumpton College vineyards today.

I started at the tiny “Varietal Patch” at the college itself and then moved on to the larger “Plumpton Patch”. In both places the task was tucking in: moving the quickly growing shoots to between the foliage wires. It’s a simple job though care needs to be taken to ensure the young shoots do not snap: simply pushing the shoots back through the wire tends to result in breakage so it’s much better to bend the shoots carefully to the side, round then under. The main reason for this task is that by ensuring the canopies stay within the trellis wire-work it’s possible for machines and labour to move easily along the alleys. Tucking in also makes the vineyard look pretty, and more importantly keeps shoots protected from strong winds.

Time for tucking in!

Flowering! (but only inside a vineguard)

After that I went to Ditchling Vineyard to tend “my” rows (22-26) which I had pruned and repaired the trellis of earlier in the year. The task was first to bud-rub: taking the buds and any young shoots off the trunks and under the head of the vine. Then I tucked these vines in. It was interesting that the vines needed very little bud-rubbing. This is partly because the vines are so old (over 30 years) and also partly because the Reichensteiner variety is known for not producing many suckers.

On an old vine head like this one I was leaving tiny shoots such as that shown here in the middle of the head rather than rubbing them off. This is because when this shoot becomes a cane this winter it might then be a good candidate for replacing one of the old and failing arms of the head.

To complete the day’s odyssey of all four Plumpton Vineyards I then went with the others to Rock Lodge in the afternoon. Here again there was a fair amount of bud-rubbing and tucking in, with additional trellis work: banging in more posts with the hand-torpedo and laying out new wire work. I actually spent most of my time with Nick shifting heavy end posts around the vineyard both manually and with the tractor. A busy day, and there’s clearly a lot more to do in the vineyards.

The vines are not flowering yet, but the flower clusters are well on show

Jack and Sarah take a break from mowing. I did not get to use the mower today.

Although inside the warm microclimate of a vineguard I did find some vine flowers which had burst, none of the vines are really at this stage yet. However, most vines are a full three weeks ahead of where they usually are at this stage of the year!

Always check the fuel tank before starting a task. A jerry can, just like in the movies.

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