The Kiwi spirit of number 8 wire is alive and well on our Marlborough vineyards. When we couldn’t get our normal pruning team of overseas seasonal workers due to Covid-19 border control, we made a plan to ensure that our vines will be pruned properly. This way, they can deliver yet another great harvest next year.
Step one was to start earlier – we started pruning some vines while others still had grapes on them.
Step two was to find other people to do the work. We simply gave our winery interns the option to stay on and move to vineyard work. Most opted to do so. We gave them training for a week, then a week working under close supervision until they got up to speed with how our vines need to be set up for the best results next harvest. After all, the pruning we do now is the first step of vintage 2021.
A third way to address the issue is to use mechanical equipment to remove the old canes cut off by the pruners, rather than having people do the heavy work of pulling these canes off the wires. Two of the machines that do this, the Klima pruning machine and Langlois vine stripper, were actually designed in Marlborough!
All of this means that, despite the unusual circumstances this year, our vines should be ready and in good shape to deliver great grapes again next year.
“The silver lining is that we may just learn something that we might not have otherwise,” says Marlborough viticulture manager, David Bullivant. “The challenges we’re facing could yet turn out to be a blessing, improving the way we prune for years to come.”
Now that’s an attitude one could toast with a glass of the good stuff!