by Conrad Pohlinger
What a winter in the vineyard. We have had the wettest season since 2016! The warmer weather pushed an early budburst (mid-August for some varieties) so it has been all hands on deck to get everything tidied up and ready for the growing season.
Winter might seem to be the slow period in the vineyard, as the vines are dormant, but we’ve kept very busy with some fun projects.
Reducing herbicide use in the vineyards
After our past years’ experience with cutting out herbicides at Greenock, we decided to purchase a twin-sided finger weeded. This cultivates the area under the vines to pull out weeds instead of spraying them. While we had a similar approach last year, the new equipment has allowed us to cover the ground far quicker which has given us superior weed control and reduced diesel use.
To keep us progressing we will dramatically reduce our herbicide use at Nuriootpa, with only one spray to specifically target the problematic weeds. Hopefully within a year or two these will be eliminated and we can stop their use all together.
Planting native vegetation
Our first phase of native vegetation plantings was in June, establishing 350 plants of various native species. These will provide shelter for a range of beneficial insects that help keep pests down in the vineyard.
The plants will also help bring diversity to the landscape and act as hosts for many other birds and insects, so will broadly improve the biodiversity of the area.
Thankfully, these species are disliked by the birds that tend to chomp on our grapes close to harvest and may even shelter some of the predatory birds that deter the little pests!
Command Shiraz cuttings
At Greenock we have an exciting 4 hectare development almost ready to plant – we are looking early next week to start. We will be planting Shiraz cuttings from the Command vineyard as well as a small area to Cinsault. There is a lot of excitement about this given how our previous plantings of Command cuttings have performed. Unfortunately it will be a couple of years before we see any crop from this for the winery -grape growing is a patient game.
We opted to go to a metal post for this site, designed by a local contractor here in the Barossa. The classic wooden posts seen in vineyards appear innocuous, but the chemicals used to treat them mean the posts can’t be disposed of so are becoming an increasing problem for the industry to deal with. The newer metal designs are more costly but can ultimately be recycled at the end of their lifecycle so reduce unnecessary landfill.
Until the next update, cheers!