January, the year starts with Winter Pruning. The hard work starts while the vines have entered their dormant stage with all of the previous years growth being removed. There are two main methods used in pruning vines, Grove Estate have used ‘Cane’ pruning across all varieties to date, but plan to experiment with ‘Spur’ pruning on the Phoenix vines in 2017.
Following new growth Tying Down is performed in March. All 1,000 vines have to tied to the main guide wire to support the vine as the new growth occurs. This ensures all of the fruit is kept off the floor, stopping rot or wildlife helping them selves to the precious crop.
In April and May Tucking In of the new growth in to the higher guide wires. If this was not performed, by June you would have a jungle on your hands and you would not be able to walk between the rows!
To ensure the canopy does not take all the goodness Summer Pruning removes the excess height. The vines very quickly reach 6 or 7 feet and the tops need to be removed.
July and August the crop is Sprayed with Fertilizer and Pesticide (sorry, we are not Organic) and also weed killer to reduce the competition at ground level.
Throughout August and September De-leafing is undertaken to remove the canopy that surrounds the fruit. This exposes it to more sunshine and hopefully increases the sugar levels, but at the same time it risks displaying your fruit to the natural predators, birds and insects!
October and friends and family gather for the annual Harvest. It really is a case of all hands on deck for the most manual of manual processes. We have experienced that the Reds (Rondo) are ready first in early October and the Whites follow a little later in the month. The final return journey after dropping the Whites off at Halfpenny Green is conducted with a large smile and a sigh, safe in the knowledge that the vineyard can be left dormant for two months.