Thursday, August 27, 2015

Pruning and planting vines in the Vineyard Hotel's vineyard

Twice a year, or more, we are invited to come and tend the vine of which we have been made custodians in the Vineyard Hotel’s small vineyard. This is the time of year when we go to prune our vine (and others whose owners cannot attend) and each year we learn a little more of this art from very skilled people. Last Saturday, we pruned and then we were delighted to help them plant up a new small vineyard of Chardonnay, on a newly acquired property alongside the current vineyard. We were rewarded with a really lovely lunch and some special wines made by the vineyards that sponsor the vine rows
Meeting early on Saturday morning next to the Liesbeek River for a glass of Bubbly
Kitty, the matriarch of the Petousis family who own the Vineyard Hotel. She has just celebrated her 91st birthday, on the 17th of August. Kitty bought the riverside property next to the Vineyard hotel, where the new vineyard is planted
We were given a lesson in pruning from the Farm Manager of Warwick, Ronald Spies
Mike Bampfield Duggan of Wine Concepts puts the lesson into practice
Kitty's son and MD of the Vineyard George Petousis
Eddie Turner of Meerlust shows his pruning skills to Mike Bampfield Duggan
Everyone putting the lessons into practice
Wendy Masters of the Phoenix Partnership, who handle the Vineyard Hotel’s PR, with her daughter Holly
The three rows at the front are Sauvignon Blanc, the two rows on the back terrace are Semillon
The Ford vine successfully pruned by Lynne. We hope for a good harvest this El Nino year
One of our other teachers is Kevin Arnold of Waterford wines; they sponsor one of the rows
You take off all of the old vine stems, except one strong two year old stem and cut that off just above two buds. You also try to leave one small bud on the same junction which will provide the branch for the following year
A break for some Simonsig Kaapse Vonkel MCC - another sponsor of a row
Finishing off, all is neat and tidy and we now must wait for the buds to break when the weather becomes warmer
The new vineyard. The holes have been dug for the new vines, but we need a lesson in how to best plant them
Pruning over for this year, Ronald shows us the new Chardonnay vines we will be planting and the roots
The vine roots have been trimmed
Spread out the roots and cover with some soil then using a fork, (never a spade, it makes the sides of the hole too firm and the roots wont break through), pull in some soil from around the hole and plant the vine securely. You do need someone to hold the vine straight. Restaurant manager David Wibberley holds it tight. The graft must be well above the soil
Then tamp the soil around the vine down with your foot

Kevin Arnold christens the first Chardonnay vine planted with some Simonsig Kaapse Vonkel
It's in place and hopefully we will see good growth
It’s mucky work planting vines
Lynne planted this one
John planted one next to it. We chose the top terrace next to the wall for it to get the maximum light and perhaps some reflected warmth from the wall
And then it was time for lunch. On the buffet, an Asian style prawn salad
Blanched broccoli spears, with feta and raw almonds
Artichokes, roasted pepperoni (red peppers), anchovies, fresh basil and croutons
Two great ladies: winemaker Norma Ratcliffe of Warwick (another sponsor) with Kitty Petousis
On the braai: grilled salmon
Butterflied lamb seared to perfection
The chef, Shane Louw, grilling next to the pool. There was also pork belly and good steak
We drank a selection of special Sponsors’ wines with lunch; some vintage, some current releases
Holly needing a nap? or some exercise
Having a lovely time
Kevin Arnold, Eddie Turner and Roy Davis introduce the four Vineyard vintages made so far for us to taste. 2012, 2013, 2014 & 2015
And we all tasted them. Each vintage is quite different from the others. The first one made from a very small quantity of grapes, from the first harvest in 2012, was pressed by foot and wine writer Neil Pendock who helped and has his own vine, christened it the Toe Jam wine. It has matured. The 2013 is resting. The 2014 is probably at its peak and was nice and crisp and lively. The 2015 is nervous and has still to come into its own, having just been bottled, but looks very interesting. It will be a few years before we can add the Chardonnay to the blend. It takes a while for the vines to mature and produce good grapes for wine
Food and Beverage Manager Matt Dietchmann brings out the chef so we can applaud the great food
Thank you Vineyard Hotel for giving us this opportunity to learn much more about growing vines
© John & Lynne Ford, Adamastor & Bacchus 2015

Subscribe to MENU

No comments: