As the vines lie dormant for the winter and restore their energies for the growing season ahead, we are about halfway through our winter pruning. Cutting off excess canes from the plant is critical, as it maintains integrity of the plant and prevents excessive leaf and grape density, which can weaken production.
Trial plantings of new varietals on the vineyard are already yielding some interesting results. With both whites and reds in the experimental plot, we are hopeful that some vines will be yielding fruit this harvest for tasting. Watch this space!
This is the perfect time to reflect on the positive effects of Denbies’ natural vineyard practices. With 265 acres under vine and 7 miles of footpaths within the estate, we at Denbies have a huge responsibility to protect the natural environment. Whilst we wish to promote the optimum growth of our grapes, we also have a duty to ensure that we do this in a considerate manner which protects the plentiful flora and fauna.
Our resident vineyard bats do a superb job of pest management, controlling the population of spotted wing drosophiliae, fruit flies which break the grape skins and lay eggs inside. This does considerable damage to grapes during the summer and autumn months. With chemical pesticides largely ineffective at controlling these flies, due to their rapid breeding, we are delighted to have a natural solution to protecting our grapes.
Over the past 10 years, we have almost entirely eliminated any requirement for pest control here at Denbies. Instead of following a set schedule of spraying numerous times throughout the year, our Viticulturalist carefully assesses the vineyard and sprays only at critical times, minimising any adverse effects.
To further safeguard our natural vineyard, herbicide use has also been almost eradicated here at Denbies. We encourage the growth of natural grasses amongst the plants, to draw up water from the soil and stop the vines from becoming waterlogged. A perfectly manicured vineyard may look neat and tidy, however we believe that healthy plants and a healthy environment is paramount. Following similar practice to that of organic vineyards, sulphur ‘recovery spraying’ of the roots does take place where necessary and chicken manure is used to enrich the vineyard soil.
The whole team at Denbies continue to strive to promote and protect our natural environment throughout the seasons, for the enjoyment of all and importantly for many future generations.