July – Sunshine brought!

It’s hot and sweaty working out in the vineyard. I’m covered up from head to toe, collar up on my shirt, cap, garden gloves. Perhaps not the best way to stay cool, but definitely the best way to avoid those nasty marks. I decide I can handle the small pink triangle I get because my top button is undone. I’m not sure how people work on tea and cotton farms in such heat every day.

I work my way up the steepest bit of the site, block B, wire-lifting on the Pinot Noir. It’s hardly the climb to the top of the Mont Ventoux for Froome and his bike, but it’s enough for me. This is the second wire lifting this year. Nick comments he thinks the vines have grown since his visit in the morning, such is the canopy.

There is no over estimating the importance of the heat and sun we are having for the vines. Back in the spring, we were four weeks behind last year on bud burst. Now we are a only two weeks behind. The vines are staring to flower. The Seyval and the Chardonnay are a bit ahead of the Pinots. If the dry, warm weather stays it’ll be the best conditions for (self) pollination, giving us an even spread of good grapes.

Most of the weeks from now until harvest will be spent on maintenance on the vineyard. Wire-lifting, shoot tipping ( cutting the tops off), crown-thining. Weeding, mowing and spraying. We spray the organic vineyard four times to try to prevent Botrytis. It’s a fungus, which isn’t all bad in the world of wine. It dehydrates the grapes, giving a higher concentration of sugar and acidity, perfect for the scrummy sweet wines like Sauternss and Tokaji.

But that’s not the market we’re in. So we’ve done our first spray of Bacillus Subtilis to help keep it at bay.

Clearly, that which is good for the vines, isn’t good for Philippa. It’s definitely far from my most productive day on the vineyard. Lifting wires, pulling wires, going back to tuck a rogue shoot in. Moving up a stage further, doing it again.

I descended into my sofa in time to watch Froome descend the Col de Manse in Stage 16 of the Tour de France. My bog-standard glass of cold white never felt better.

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