Sunday, 12 June 2011

Silent Pool Rosé

Silent Pool

Now that we are nearing our fist vintage we have to give some thought to the name for the still rosé wine, which will hopefully be available for sale next year. "Silent Pool Rosé" is the current favourite.

The Silent Pool is a lake of crystal clear water adjacent to the vineyard. The water feeding the lake comes from natural springs in the North Down's lower chalk resulting in completely clear water with a beautiful blue green colour.

The pool has a genuine ancient history and may have been a prehistoric religious site. In the nineteenth century Silent Pool became a popular place to visit and in 1858 a local man from Albury, Martin Tupper, wrote a story about about the pool which has now become folklore.

The story tells of a beautiful young woman, Emma, who took to bathing naked in the pool. Prince John heard of this and rode up to see for himself. He arrived to see Emma hanging from the branch of a tree, dipping in and out of the water. Emma saw John and his men arrive and tried to escape by wading deeper into the water. John pursued on his horse until Emma, out of her depth sank beneath the water. Her brother tried to rescue her but also drowned. The story ends by claiming that Emma's ghost now haunts the pool.

Tuesday, 7 June 2011

Cap Fall and Flowering

Vines have flower clusters with several individual blossoms that form a closed “cap”. The cap falls off during blossoming and the individual flowers appear. Measurement of the blossoming period begins when about 25% of the caps have fallen off. It can then take 5-10 days for the majority of them to fall off, depending on the weather. This normally happens around Wimbledon fortnight but is a little early this year because of the warm Spring. Generally good weather at Wimbledon indicates a good harvest!

The flower clusters of grapevines are quite inconspicuous. They are panicles (loose, irregularly branched flower clusters) with individual flowers, or blossoms, on the end of each branch. If successfully fertilised, these blossoms develop into grapes. Grapevines self-pollinate and are therefore not reliant on outside help from insects or animals. The overall number of clusters provides an early estimate of potential yield.  This is currently looking good on our vineyard, especially for the Seyval and Pinot Noir.

A lot can happen between now and harvest to effect the yield with disease being the biggest risk, especially in an organic vineyard. Birds are also a worry. Also Alex and John Buchan are keen to reduce the number of bunches to encourage root growth and the strength of the plant for next year. We have agreed to leave two bunches per shoot on the majority of the vines but only one bunch on the Pinot Noir that will be used to make the still Rose to encourage ripeness (less important for the bubbly).

The Vineyard in June

Poppies in the Vineyard (photograph courtesy of John Powell)

The vineyard is looking fabulous at the moment thanks to thousands of poppies which have self seeded in Block B. Unfortunately they won't last for long as Alex is determined to cut them before they seed again in the woodchip mulch!

We are currently busy replacing about 350 young vines that died over the severe winter or were hit by the frosts in May. As this is a manual process it can take some time but Richard is helping out by drilling holes with an auger to make planting a bit easier for Alex. We have also been through the Block A (planted in May 2009) and pruned the canes that were left extra long to try and minimise the impact of frost. The new vines have all now had excess shoots removed and have been tied to the bamboo canes.

Overall the vines are looking healthy; the rain earlier this week was welcome and will help with growth but unfortunately it also brings with it the risk of disease. Next week we will spray the foliage with compost tea, followed a week later (when the vines have blossomed) by Serenade® which contains Bacillus subtilis, a soil dwelling bacterium that helps control Mildew and Botrytis.