I have spent some time gaining hands-on experience by helping out in local vineyards in Leicestershire and Northamptonshire – with planting, pruning, harvesting and trellis maintenance. Numerous visits to France and recently to Germany, have given me more ideas, on how I might pilot a small vineyard, more or less in my back garden, as a stepping stone to something larger.
So these pages follow the progress of my experimental planting of 13 seyval blanc on 5BB rootstock, on my allotment garden in Nottingham, in May 2011. The vine to wine diary web log covers all the important stages. The aim is to put theory into practice and to better know the complete process, and the difficulties, in establishing a vineyard and in wine production. If a sufficient crop ensues, then a very small amount of sparkling wine is an aim.
Soils – stony loam top soil for 0.3m, then shale then clay at 0.6m.
Exposure – plain south
Viticulture – I don’t want wires touching the vines, nor stakes plunged through the root system. So I am using an inverted ‘V’ of chestnut pales, similar to Condrieu, in the Northern Rhone, as support to the heart-shaped doppelbogen, see the image from the Mosel, for maximum fruit exposure and open canopy, also helping to reducing the risk of mildew. The V can be opened or closed to increase or decrease the height and breadth of the support window available to each individual vine. The doppelbogen looks a little like a troll, with heart-shaped arms holding the fruit, and vertical canes, like hair standing on end, for photosynthesis.
If anyone has any advice to offer on doppelbogen I would be glad to have it.
Treatments – I have always been a little wary of altering the natural chemical content of the soil with repeated use of sulphur and copper sulphate, which to my mind, although certified for organic use, is a bit of a crease in the blueprint of viticultural practices. Surely these substances also find there way into fermentation vessels – and what is the effect of that? I came across an alternative natural product, Garshield, an anti-fungal, organic rated citrus, seaweed and garlic based product, for spray application. Insects, apparently, do not find it enticing either, but it is harmless to bees. In any event it seems to be keeping ants from farming green-fly on the young growth of our roses, and mildew and blackspot are things of the past.