Essential Vineyard Management
Harvesting the best quality grapes that go into every bottle of Cael’s gate Wines is a labour of love and dedication. But harvesting is just one aspect of the winemaking process which generally starts with careful vineyard management.
Growing the best grapes for wines starts with understanding how biodiversity works in a vineyard. Biodiversity in a vineyard refers to the delicate balance of the soil as well as local fauna and flora in the region. Every aspect is crucial and unique to the terroir of the area. Biodiversity in a vineyard can be improved by planting cover crops in between the rows of vines. By carefully selecting native and other plants for cover crops, it is possible to strengthen the soil with natural nutrients as well as protect the vines from disease and pests. Some of the more aromatic plants can also add to the complexity of flavours in the wines.
Soil health is also a crucial aspect of vineyard management. To grow the healthiest vines that produce the best possible grapes, most wine growers will avoid the use of mechanical farming methods as well as limit the use of chemical pesticides and fertilizers. It is far more beneficial to plant beneficial cover crops and use mulch to improve soil health.
Managing Vineyard Variability
Vineyard variability is not always easy to manage as much of this depends on the climate and changes in the weather throughout the year. However, by choosing the right grapes to plant for each region and irrigating during dry seasons, it is possible to ensure a quality crop of grapes. However, it is more important to protect the vines during flowering or when the grapes begin to develop.
It’s easy to think that the winemaking process ends the season, however, the vines themselves need to be tended to after harvest. This process of canopy management involves pruning the vines and providing care during the winter months long after the fruit has been harvested. Pruning is essential to the vines as excessive leaves can consume much needed energy from the plants which would be better served for the fruit. Excessive leaves also increase the risk of disease as the vines may suffer from restricted sunlight due to being overly covered. By pruning or removing non-productive leaves and vines, you can ensure the plants are more robust and resistant to disease when the new growing season starts in early spring.
Post-harvest care also involves checking all the trellises. These are the structures that give the vines stability as well as root spacing so that overcrowding does not occur.
The Australian Wine Industry is constantly evolving and incorporating technology to improve the quality of their crops. Quantity is often difficult to control as there are many factors to consider that include the weather and other natural elements. However, most winegrowers focus on what they can control and this means their concentration is directed more towards quality. After all, it is far more beneficial to have small, easily controlled batches of wine of exceptional quality than it is to have larger quantities of mediocre wine. This is why Cael’s Gate Wines sources grapes from smaller vineyards where quality control is easier to achieve.
Tannins are the bitter and astringent compounds found in most plants. In grapes, they are predominantly found in the skins. These tannins give red wines their complex and the deep colours so famous with these dark wines.