Growing Our Grapes - Autumn/Winter Edition

To wrap up the season, we have thus far completed the onerous task of composting.  This is done entirely by hand - bags are filled and then emptied on the full length of the vine berm in a 10cm thick layer.  

Each season we try and cover a third of our vineyards using a generous amount of compost so that we have a three year rotation cycle.  This is more cost effective in terms of labour and the vineyards are supplemented in the interim years with the mow-and-throw green compost that is cut down in late spring.  The green compost consists of the mature cover crops which are also sown now in Autumn.  This year we are using a mixture of pink clover, serradella, bisurella, lupines, korog, oats, sweet vetch and some fescue.  The combinations are carefully considered and weak areas get more legumes while vigorous areas get more fescue which is not naturally nitrogen fixing. 

The annual herbicide we use on the vine berms continues to be a huge source of frustration for me.  I really don’t like it.  So this Autumn the vine berms are also being sown with low growing serradella  and biserulla to try and see if they can smother the weeds and grasses which are so competitive for food and water in the summer months.  If this practise proves successful it could be the answer to end the use of herbicide sprays.  I’m not holding my breath but this is my latest “good idea” – i.e.: to create a living mulch- so watch this space!  Or not…