In the past few months our vines have shown strong second year development. We've had to make very important decisions about how to maintain weed control and how to manage vineyard pests and diseases.
Budburst came in early April closely followed by a ferocious attack by slugs and snails. Clearly, green shoots at this time of the year protected by vine tubes and the warm climate inside make for easy pickings for the mollusc population. We dealt with this threat to our young vines using ferric phosphate slug pellets marketed as Sluxx and beer traps. The Sluxx worked well and is an eco-friendly alternative to conventional slug pellets made of metaldehyde known to be harmful to wildlife.
Weed control we have managed using conventional herbicides: Round-up and Harvest. Applications have been kept to a minimum and have been supplemented with hand weed control and strimming. In years to come when the vines are established we may move to mechanical methods of weed control or under vine cover cropping.
Our philosophy has developed such that we are following conventional viticultural practices but using pesticides sparingly. Although we are attracted to organic practices, there are pros and cons and organic vine spraying of copper based products involves more spraying and isn't free from risks. Our disease resistant varietals particularly Regent and Rondo (so-called PIWIs from their German name) are proving to us to be the answer to reducing the need to spray vines in the vineyard. Neither has shown any signs of either Downy or Powdery mildew.
Wind damage and its impact on tender growing shoots is something we have had to keep an eye on particularly when there are hungry rabbits around with an appetite for vine shoots and leaves. It's been an unusually windy year too. For many weeks we've kept the vines tied-up and tucked in to keep them safe growing upright contained by the foliage wires on the trellising. Some vines have been growing very tall indeed in which case they've needed to be topped, an unexpectedly nice job to do at this stage.
The vineyard is looking fabulous in it's second year thanks to hard work and good management.