Vineyard January 2021

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VINEYARD for viticulturists in Great Britain ™


EDITOR'S VISIT Top Sparkling Wine Producer in the World


IN CONVERSATION E-commerce from the3Bottles


Cutting the cost of winter pruning with mechanical pre-pruners


• Vineyard sales & acquisition • Planning applications • Business plans • Environmental schemes • Grants •

Matthew Berryman 07710 765323

S P E C I A L I S T D R I N K S B RA N D I N G , PA C KA G I N G , D E S I G N & D I G I TA L


VINEYARD for viticulturists in Great Britain VINEYARD Kelsey Media, The Granary, Downs Court Yalding Hill, Yalding, Maidstone, Kent, ME18 6AL 01959 541444 EDITORIAL Editor: Jo Cowderoy Studio Manager: Jo Legg Graphic Designer: James Pitchford ADVERTISEMENT SALES Jamie McGrorty 01303 233883


Rankin is the first exhibitor to book at new Vineyard & Winery show


Nationwide viticulture apprenticeship 2021


Battle for ‘Golden Secateurs Trophy’


Balfour Wines partner with Matthew Clark and Bibendum



Matthew Jukes


The vine post


Representing you


The agronomy diary


Filtration and stabilisation

PRINTING Precision Colour Print Kelsey Media 2020 © all rights reserved. Kelsey Media is a trading name of Kelsey Publishing Ltd. Reproduction in whole or in part is forbidden except with permission in writing from the publishers. Note to contributors: articles submitted for consideration by the editor must be the original work of the author and not previously published. Where photographs are included, which are not the property of the contributor, permission to reproduce them must have been obtained from the owner of the copyright. The editor cannot guarantee a personal response to all letters and emails received. The views expressed in the magazine are not necessarily those of the Editor or the Publisher. Kelsey Publishing Ltd accepts no liability for products and services offered by third parties. Kelsey Media takes your personal data very seriously. For more information of our privacy policy, please visit Kelsey Media takes your personal data very seriously. For more information of our privacy policy, please visit . If at any point you have any queries regarding Kelsey’s data policy you can email our Data Protection Officer at

Flirting with oak.

A year unlike any other. The start of each new year brings new beginnings, a chance for a fresh start. Is it time for a gentler approach to pruning?

The next steps before considering bottling operations.



How the right pump can give you control over your wine transfer.

Front cover image: Rathfinney Vineyard © Martin Apps

 twitter facebook @VineyardMagGB VineyardMagGB


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In conversation Vineyard speaks to Elisabeth Else, the founder of a new e-commerce service, the3bottles.

Editor's visit The young team at Langham Wine Estate, in Dorset all jumped for joy in November when they were crowned Top Sparkling Wine Producer in the World.

Giving frost the cold shoulder It is important to know your enemy and understand your frost risks.

Cutting edge Winter pruning is probably the most important, most expensive and most challenging task in the vineyard year.

Jo C

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This is the first edition of 2021, when the UK will have reached the end of the Brexit transition period and have left the EU. As I write, there is still no trade agreement between the UK and EU and many businesses who trade with the EU are feeling they are ‘in the dark’. In mid-December WineGB hosted a webinar with HMRC and members of the export committee to provide guidance on exporting to the EU and using the EMCS system and as the national body it will continue to inform and support its members with regular news bulletins through this tricky period. Fortunately, our wine production industry now has a well-established and robust supply chain, with dedicated businesses based here in the UK bringing goods and services to meet the needs of vineyards and wineries. It’s very exciting that our sector has grown to a critical size in order to warrant its own ‘expo’, and the new Vineyard & Winery Show, on 24 November 2021, will be an invaluable opportunity for producers and suppliers to come together under one roof - without the need to travel abroad. The vines will not stop for Brexit or Covid-19 and winter pruning is well underway in our vineyards. It is one of the most critical, and expensive, tasks in the vineyard year. Mechanical pre-pruners are an option for some vineyards and are becoming more common in the UK with the potential to save time and money. This edition of Vineyard looks at a couple of vineyards that have trialled pre-pruners. Whatever the method of pruning, cuts and pruning wounds are hard to avoid, but the UK is now fortunate to have a recent approval for a natural treatment to inhibit the organisms that contribute to grapevine trunk diseases. Without a crystal ball we cannot predict what the 2021 season will bring in terms of weather, which is part of the ‘rough and tumble’ of agriculture. However, some vineyards are noticing more weather extremes and of course the late frosts of mid-May in 2020 were devastating for many. The best methods of frost protection for vineyards has to start with site selection, but this is too late for some older vineyards. Sadly, we say goodbye to Bothy Vineyard in Oxfordshire, planted in 1978, where climate change has not been kind and the frequency of late spring frosts has forced a decision to grub up. I was thrilled to visit the young team at Langham Vineyard in Dorset who are achieving such great results with their wines, including International Wine and Spirit Competition’s sparkling wine producer of the year 2020. Their vibrancy, energy and innovation is enviable! For the first time in the International Wine Challenge’s 36-year history an English red wine has received a Gold medal and Trophy. Congratulations to Hush Heath Estate, in Kent for the limited-edition, ‘The Red Miller’ made with 100% Meunier, by winemaker Owen Elias. Congratulations also to Nyetimber who were crowned Best English Sparkling at the Champagne & Sparkling Wine World Championships 2020, and to all the medal winners in both competitions.


From the editor

The vines will not stop for Brexit or Covid-19.

The Vineyard


eroy d ow

JA N UA R Y 2021 | V I N E YA R D

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First booking


Rankin is the first exhibitor booking at the new Vineyard & Winery Show.


Rankin Brothers & Sons, suppliers of bottle closures, became the first exhibitor for the Vineyard & Winery Show, as soon as the bookings were opened on 9 December. The show will take place on 24 November at the Kent Country Showground and will provide the perfect opportunity for all viticulturalists, winemakers, suppliers and the trade to come together. There will be a packed programme including technical talks from WineGB and tastings of the UK’s top wines. November is the best time in the wine producer’s year as harvest is over and there is a chance to draw breath before the new season starts. All events will be under one roof, so there are no worries that rain will stop play. “We are really happy to dive in and to be the first and it’s the first physical event we have booked for next year, so we are very much looking forward to it,” said Jim Rankin, Managing Director. We desperately miss the physical meetings, those spontaneous conversations and the spark that you can’t get with zoom, so this event is hugely important,” added Jim. “The UK’s vineyard and winery sector has reached a critical phase, so it’s right that we have our own `local’ expo, on our home shores.

i JA N UA R Y 2021 | V I N E YA R D

The sector has experienced such phenomenal growth over the last 10-15 years. We have built a solid reputation for the quality and uniqueness of our wines and we continue to receive accolades and awards competing against the very best the world can offer. So the expo is an invaluable opportunity for the sector and the supply chain to come together and for the suppliers to show how they can support the vineyards and wineries at a very local level. The sector needs a robust, capable and flexible supply chain and it needs reliable partners it can trust; partners who can help the producers achieve their ambitions for growth. The expo is an ideal forum for conversations, to build relationships and to explore new ideas and solutions. It’s also a chance to discuss our strategies on sustainability and climate change mitigation, through our activities and the design of products that are more environmentally positive,” commented Jim. “I would encourage everyone to dive in and take a good look at what our local supply chain can offer. There really is no need to jump on a plane; we can showcase our capabilities here and in a relaxed and informal setting,” added Jim.

Details on how to book an exhibitor place can be found on or feel free to call Sarah Calcutt on 07827 642396, or Jamie McGrorty on 01303 233883.


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Official fizz of the House of Commons Digby Fine English ‘House of Commons’ Vintage Brut 2013 from West Sussex will now be available from the House of Commons website and its three gift shops, priced at £35 a bottle. The bespoke label features the House of Commons’ portcullis with a gold and ‘Westminster’ green neck foil. Visitors to the gift shop and website include a growing global audience of tourists, high-profile Members of Parliament and 4,000 House of Commons staff members. Trevor Clough, CEO of Digby Fine English, said, “With this thrilling development today, we are starting to build a new set of traditions – whether toasting the big national moments or enjoying an evening in with loved ones, all with world class sparkling made right here at home. Becoming the official fizz of the House of Commons is a deep honour for Jason, our team and me – and also a responsibility. We hope our MPs and visitors from around the globe fall in love with the new fizz in town.” Andrew Griffith MP, Member of Parliament for Arundel & South Downs where Digby Fine English is based said, “I am delighted that Digby, based in the heart of English wine making in West Sussex, is now the official fizz of the House of Commons Gift Shops. An injustice to British growers and drinkers has been corrected – no one imagines the Élysée Palace in France showcasing anything other than their home-grown products. With English Sparkling wine regularly beating French Champagne in blind tastings, visitors to the most iconic of British buildings – the Palace of Westminster – can now secure a souvenir worthy of the location.” “For years the House of Commons Champagne has been a go-to within the Palace of Westminster, but now there is a new fizz in town which is made by a passionate, local team in English Wine Country. From Digby’s a toast: To green and pleasant! Cheers!” Added Trevor.

Don’t miss out! Following on from the success of the first cohort of 10 nationwide apprentices, Plumpton College will be running their 2021 programme in the early part of next year. With spaces still available the college is seeking UK wine producers who are keen to take part. Delivered on a national basis, the apprenticeship will start at the beginning of March 2021. A blended delivery model has been created to provide apprentices with online theory teaching mixed with attendance at Plumpton Wine Division on 10 block placements, over a two-year period, and is designed around the seasonal requirements and tasks of a vineyard. Apprentices also get their PA1 and PA3 spray application certificates as well as First Aid at Work. Onsite accommodation is also available meaning the programme is accessible to all regions. “The benefits of training an employee via an apprenticeship scheme is that the Government will contribute at least 95% of the cost of the training which means that an employer would benefit from their apprentice receiving £15,000 worth of viticulture training and assessment for a maximum of £750,” explained Jeremy Kerswell, Principal of Plumpton College. “We are delighted with how well the pilot viticulture apprenticeship scheme has run, particularly during a time that has been so difficult for so many. We developed this programme specifically to meet the needs of the sector and worked closely with WineGB and land-based sector bodies to ensure the programme met the identified local economic and skills priorities. Thanks to the successes of the first cohort, we are once again ready to work with vineyards across the UK,” Jeremy added.


> Students In Plumpton vineyard

Photo © Ian Pack

Dr Greg Dunn, Head of Plumpton Wine Division commented, “we dedicate industry experienced tutors and assessors, including guest speakers to enhance the apprentice’s learning experience. This innovative and agile approach to delivery with both practical training at the college’s vineyard alongside online theory teaching and progress reviews via Microsoft Teams is an excellent combination to train a future UK workforce.” Jeremy Kerswell concluded “For Producers looking to recruit, there is also the opportunity to identify potential suitable employees (apprentices) through engaging with Plumpton’s Viticulture Re-training Programme, an intensive two-week introduction programme developed with the Department of Work and Pensions to provide training and employment opportunities to those who are currently unemployed due to Covid-19. Additionally, our Apprenticeship Recruitment and Talent Bank Service is available and free to any business looking to grow their future workforce via an apprenticeship scheme.”

For those producers who wish to express an interest, please contact Plumpton's Business Service Department by calling 01273 892127 or emailing

The first yield monitor sensor

By 2022, growers will no longer need to walk up and down the rows of vines as the harvest approaches to estimate their yield, according to Vitisphere, the French media service. A new sensor developed by Vivelys, “is equipped with several LEDs and two cameras. The first one assesses the distance between the clusters to determine their size, whilst the second one takes high quality photos”, explains Benjamin Boissier, Vivelys R&D manager. “It is easy to install on a tractor, a quad bike or a straddle tractor, he added.


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Earlier this year, Vivelys tested its sensor in Chile and during the summer, the company attached the sensor to a quad bike in its experimental plots in Villeneuve-Lès-Maguelone, in Hérault southern France. It has also carried out trials in Bordeaux. According to Vivelys, the margin of error for a manual yield estimate is around 20%, whereas the sensor detected 97.5% of the berries. “We are very happy with its repeatability. At two-day intervals, we obtained less than 3% difference in ‘grape pixels,’" claims Boissier.



VINEYARD for viticulturists in Great Britain ™

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Mentoring programme calls for mentee applications The Drinks Trust has launched The Drinks Community Mentoring Programme, which forms part of The Drinks Community initiative. The programme has brought together experts from across the industry to form an impressive mentor group, and The Drinks Community is now calling for mentee applications. The Drinks Trust is the community organisation for the drinks industry, offering support and services to help its industry community to upskill, to broaden their knowledge, to network and to learn from one another. It also provides support during challenging times, with wellbeing and financial assistance. The mentees will come from across the drinks industry and are likely to be looking for concerted career development, support and guidance. Following the application process, mentees will be partnered with mentors to work together to identify potential knowledge gaps and discover what's next for them throughout a year-long journey. Robin McMillian, Lead Mentor for the Drinks Community Mentor

Programme, said, “I'm delighted to be able to offer my support and experience to the Community Mentor Programme. I believe that mentoring can play a vital role in recovering and improving our sector at a time when collectively we have experienced untold pressure and challenge. We have a truly outstanding group of mentors who have deep expertise to offer mentees, and we can't wait to get started early next year. I'd suggest that applicants apply quickly as there has already been a huge amount of interest in the programme!” So far, the line-up of mentors includes leading members of the drinks industry, including Simon Thorpe MW (WineGB), Andrew Shaw (Bibendum), Barbara Drew MW (Berry Brothers & Rudd) Elizabeth Kelly MW (M&S), Sarah Knowles MW (The Wine Society) and many others.


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Goodbye to one of the UK’s older vineyards Sian and Richard Liwicki have been growing grapes and producing wine at Bothy Vineyard near Abingdon, Oxfordshire for the last 18 years. The vines, originally planted in 1978, have now been grubbed up. “This year has been memorable for all the wrong reasons. Covid-19, political upheaval and the two nights of -5°C frosts on 11 and 13 May

devastated the flowering shoots of our vines. “Climate change has not been kind to us. Milder winters encourage early bud burst, but there has been no let-up in the short and hard frosts in May. In the past 10 years we have had some degree of frost damage every year. Frost protection measures are expensive and often not very environmentally friendly. The whole

block needs replacing, but this investment in a frost-prone site is just not sensible,” explained Sian. Instead, Sian and Richard will plant around 850 oak and hazel trees on the site, and expand their wildflower areas in order to build biodiversity and provide their ‘modest’ contribution to fighting climate change.

Battle for ‘Golden Secateurs Trophy’


> 2020's winners Phil Harris, Tom English and Ben Connor, from Davenport Vineyards

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Photo © Martin Apps

The 2021 WineGB National Pruning Competition will take place on 12 March at Yotes Court Vineyard, Mereworth, Kent. Calling all vine pruners – it is the perfect chance to demonstrate your pruning skills and battle it out to win the title of Vine Pruner of the Year and the‘Golden Secateurs Trophy’! Grapevine pruning is a skilled viticultural task, essential for quality wines. This competition is to encourage high standards in the vineyard and celebrate the art of pruning. Each team or individual will prune five vines in a single bay, also pulling out, trimming and tying down. Winners and runners up will receive cash prizes and pruning equipment. This year, after a competitive contest, the ‘Golden Secateurs Trophy’ was awarded to Davenport Vineyards, Sussex, with runners up from Gusbourne Vineyard, Kent, and Vine-Works.


Entries close on Friday 21 Feb. For further details please contact WineGB Office: Championship team event costs £30 per team of three pruners and the individual event is £10.

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Top winemaker moves to England Nick Lane, with his long winemaking pedigree and vast experience probably could have gone anywhere in the world – but he has chosen England. Vineyard finds out why. Nick Lane has recently been appointed as Head Winemaker at Defined Wine, a specialist contract winery in Kent. Nick was winemaker at Cloudy Bay for 13 years and has spent the last five years in Champagne, with Moet Chandon, Veuve Clicquot, and most recently Dom Perignon. He brings a wealth of experience to both Defined and to English winemaking, as the sector goes from strength to strength. Nick, born in New Zealand, was fortunate to live in France as a teenager. “For as long as I remember I have had a curious sense of smell. This combined with a technical mind led me to discovering wine – or wine discovering me! I then realised that I could have a career in wine, so after studying science at Auckland University, I then studied Oenology and Viticulture at the Université de Paul Sabatier in Toulouse, France,” explained Nick. Nick’s first vintage was in 1997 and he has now clocked up an impressive 25 vintages from around the world, spread across the regions of the Dordogne, Burgundy, Limoux, Hawkes Bay, California, Victoria, Marlborough and Champagne. “The first vintage is always challenging, just realising how much effort and detail is required. The 2017 harvest in Champagne was difficult, as was 2008 in Marlborough. I like to remember the highlights, such as 2019 in Champagne, 2014 in Burgundy, 2010 in Marlborough,” Nick added. Commenting on why he moved to England, when he could have probably gone to any wine region in the world Nick said, “This is probably the most exciting developing country for wine right now, certainly for sparkling. It is genuinely exciting to be part of something so nascent, even if the potential was understood


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by some a few decades ago. And……this is the home of cricket!” It is undoubtedly an exciting time for wine in Great Britain at the moment, but with experience of many regions around the world, Nick advises that, “there will be difficult times and that the UK cannot simply rely on the climate improving. The wine industry must leverage new techniques, such as precision viticulture, and a scientific approach to match variety, clone, rootstock and soil combinations. Site selection is crucial in a borderline climate, just a fraction of a degree in temperature could make the difference a great wine and something much less so”. Nick can see that the potential for Classic Method is already established, but explains that, “opportunity lies in producers engaging a long-term approach in order to achieve wines that are on the next level. I see some real potential with still rosé, Bacchus and Chardonnay, but ripeness will be key! And why not that holy grail of wines, Pinot Noir? Warmer sites with the right soils and an appropriate clone - and world class Pinot noir is going to happen here! Dreaming is part of planning!” The UK public’s general knowledge of wine is probably the best in the world, and Nick thinks that the focus should be on engaging the British consumer to buy, drink and appreciate the local product over the long term. “This obviously requires a cohesive and coordinated effort from all parts of the industry,” he commented. Nick also sees opportunities when it comes to winemaking. “A key element is the management of acidity in wines. Acidity can be a friend, but it can also be a foe. A range of different microbiological and chemistry options now exist, and will all have their role to play,” he commented. “The development of different styles of dosage wines is an area where I think there is room for improvement. The wine used for dosage has a really big impact on the final wine and signature style. At Defined Wine we are developing a library of different dosage wines to offer to clients,” he added. Nick has experienced a wide range of different growing conditions, with some as wet and cold as England. “With cool climates, what is really nice is seeing the grapes mature well into autumn, so the final stage of maturation is very slow. Getting a good handle on the ripeness curve is super important for being able to make the final picking decision.” Nick explained. “Over the last 17 years I have spent nearly as much time in the vineyard as I have in the winery, so I was impressed when I saw the viticulture sessions set up by Defined Wine. Building on this, harvest advice is key to the ultimate success of our client’s wines,” he added. Defined Wine was set up in 2018, with 2020 being its second harvest. Based in Kent making both sparkling and still wines, it owns no vineyards or brands, focusing solely on making wine for other people. Nick is very excited to be making a wide variety of wine, and comments that, “the different ambitions of clients are very stimulating - and being part of peoples dreams is always exciting.” Henry Sugden, Defined Wine’s Founder, commented, “we are really excited that Nick has moved to the UK. His knowledge and experience will be a fantastic asset for all of our clients, and it speaks volumes for how the reputation of English and Welsh wine is improving that someone of his stature has made the decision to make wine here.” When Nick is not making wine, he can be found spear fishing or playing cricket. “Whilst the cricketing options should be good, not sure how much spear fishing I’ll be doing off the coast of Kent! Nick has also embarked on the challenging Master of Wine programme and is being mentored by Emma Dawson MW.


Balfour Wines partner with Matthew Clark and Bibendum Bibendum, Matthew Clark, and Walker & Wodehouse will become the exclusive distributors for Balfour Wines, produced at Hush Heath Estate, across both the Off Trade and On Trade from 1 January 2021. Matthew Clark will be taking on distribution of the Leslie’s range of English Sparkling Wines and Jake's ciders and beers ranges, whilst all will be working with a range of the Balfour still and sparkling wines. Set in 400 acres of Kent countryside on the Hush Heath Estate, the Balfour winery is family run, started by Richard and Leslie Balfour-Lynn when they planted their first vineyard in 2002. The business has expanded quickly to encompass a full range of still and traditional method sparkling wines, as well as beers and ciders under the Jake’s brand. Jamie Avenell, Senior Wine Buyer at Bibendum comments: ‘I’ve known the Balfour team and their wines for a long time and have been struck by the growth and development of the business and the quality of the wines over recent years. Their strengths make them a fantastic partner for Bibendum to continue to grow our multi-channel English sparkling and still wine sales, as we continue to put an enormous emphasis on this exciting and growing category!’ Richard Masterson, Wine Buyer at Matthew Clark adds: ‘Richard and Leslie Balfour-Lynn have created a centre of excellence on Hush Heath Estate on which Owen and Fergus Elias, Balfour’s winemakers, produce a range of great wines highlighting the diversity of styles now produced in England. These new wines will complement Matthew Clark's existing range to showcase the best of

modern homegrown wines, a category we predict will thrive next year!’ Bibendum Off Trade will also be working with Balfour to grow their already strong Off Trade sales with current listings in Tesco, Waitrose, Morrisons, Marks & Spencer, and Co-Op. Previously with wine distributor Liberty, Balfour join an already strong portfolio of English sparkling and still wines across the two distributors including Ridgeview, Albourne, Coates & Seely and Litmus (Bibendum and Walker & Wodehouse), and Greyfriars, Camel Valley, Chapel Down and Nyetimber (Matthew Clark).

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We are now talking with customers for 2021. So, if you are starting to think of your disgorging requirements, call Itasca Wines! Our team is now taking bookings. Disgorging, Storage, Labelling and Packaging, Dosage Advise and Consulting. Full label and design services also available, come and talk with our Graphic Designers and let Itasca Wines turn your ideas into that special and distinctive label.

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Corks are popping for Great Britain’s latest successes in two International competitions First trophy for an English red in the International Wine Challenge 2020


Great Britain takes its place on the world wine stage as a total of 14 wines won Gold medals in the International Wine Challenge 2020. The list included sparkling, white and for the first time, a red wine. This success meant that Great Britain was ranked in eighth position worldwide out of the 55 countries that entered wines – and won more gold medals than any other country for its size. Hush Heath Estate, in Kent, is the first English red to receive a Gold in the competition’s 36-year history. The limited-edition, ‘The Red Miller’ is made with 100% Meunier, by winemaker Owen Elias. ‘The Red Miller’ was also awarded the prestigious James Rogers Trophy, for the best wine in its first year of production in this year’s competition. I’m absolutely thrilled with both the Gold and Trophy for ‘The Red Miller’- and it’s wonderful to be the first! England is well established as a top sparkling wine producer and so it’s great to have the chance to showcase our other wines, especially our reds,” commented winemaker Owen Elias. “It’s very unusual to make a red still wine from Meunier, which is always playing second fiddle to Pinot noir even in sparkling wines. So it’s gratifying that this wine (and some Pinot noirs) has turned the tide against the naysayers and pundits who say you can’t make exceptional red in England!” Exclaimed Owen. Oz Clarke, one of the six co-chairs for the International Wine Challenge commented: “It’s incredible to think that Great Britain is producing so many world-class wines from such a small production. What became clear during the judging process was that the quality of wines from Great Britain is increasing every year and the style of wines that we are now producing is more diverse than ever.”

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Nyetimber crowned Best English Sparkling in CSWWC 2020

The English Gold Winners IWC 2020 ◆ Balfour Hush Heath

The Red Miller, 2018

◆ Chapel Down

Kit's Coty Chardonnay, 2017

◆ Gusbourne

Brut Reserve, 2016

◆ Hambledon

Berry Bros. & Rudd English Sparkling Blanc de Blancs, 2015

◆ Harrow & Hope

Blanc de Noirs, 2015

◆ Harrow & Hope

Brut Reserve, NV

◆ Hattingley Valley

Rosé, 2015

◆ Hencote

Pinot Noir, 2018

◆ Henners

Henners Brut, NV

◆ Nyetimber

Classic Cuvee, 2010

◆ Nyetimber

Tillington Single Vineyard, 2013

◆ Oxney Organic Estate

Classic, 2016

◆ Simpsons Wine Estate

Flint Fields Blanc de Noirs, 2016

◆ The Squerryes Partnership

Squerryes Brut, 2016

The Champagne & Sparkling Wine World Championships hosted Its Virtual Awards Week during December to announce a total of 37 trophies to the greatest sparkling wine producers from around the globe, including the National Champions. Nyetimber received three Golds and the NV Classic Cuvee Jeroboam was crowned as Best in Class and National Champion. This year the competition received more English and Welsh wines entries than ever before and a total of 21 silver medals were awarded and 10 golds. All the gold and silver medal winners can be found on the Champagne & Sparkling Wine World Championships website. “This year was always going to be memorable for obvious reasons, yet, despite the global pandemic, we attracted a record-breaking number of entries. Every year the standard of Champagnes and sparkling wines entered gets better and better. The bar was set high from day one and the Trophy count certainly reflects this. However, it is not only our mission to promote world class wines, but also to discover and reward new and exciting wines from established and emerging regions across the world," commented competition founder and head judge, Tom Stevenson. The English Gold winners: CSWWC 2020 ◆ Gusbourne 2016 Blanc de Noirs ◆ Gusbourne 2014 Brut Reserve ◆ Hattingley Valley 2017 Rosé ◆ Nyetimber 2010 Classic Cuvee Magnum ◆ Nyetimber NV Classic Cuvee Magnum ◆ Nyetimber NV Classic Cuvee Jeroboam ◆ Ridgeview 2009 Blanc de Blancs Magnum ◆ Simpsons Wine Estate 2016 Chalklands Classic Cuvée Magnum ◆ Squerryes 2014 Brut Magnum ◆ Squerryes 2015 Brut

The following five wines went on to win Best in Class: ◆ English Vintage Rosé Brut Hattingley Valley 2017 Rosé ◆ English Vintage Blanc de Noirs Brut Gusbourne 2016 Blanc de Noirs ◆ Vintage Blend Brut Squerryes 2014 Brut (150cl) ◆ English Sparkling Wine (150cl) Squerryes 2014 Brut ◆ English Vintage Blanc de Blancs Brut Ridgeview 2009 Blanc de Blancs (150cl) ◆ English NV Blend Brut Nyetimber NV Classic Cuvee in Jeroboam

Best in Class and National Champion ◆ The English Sparkling Rosé

trophy was awarded to Waitrose’s Hattingley Valley Rosé.

Nyetimber NV Classic Cuvee Jeroboam JA N UA R Y 2021 | V I N E YA R D



E ls e

In conversation...

El isabe th

Three’s the magic number. The pandemic has prompted many vineyards to re evaluate their route to market as they find their tourism and on-trade sales vanish. Vineyard speaks to Elisabeth Else, the founder of a new e-commerce service, the3bottles – aptly named as each bottle sold directly to the consumer is worth about three sold to the trade.

When did you become interested in English wine?

Gosh, probably around 2012 or 2013. A group of us set up a wine tasting group and one of the blind tastings included wines from Devon and Cornwall. I remember Tamlyn Currin (who now works for Jancis Robinson) wondering out loud if they were perhaps from the Loire. I think this tasting, as well as a bottle from Sharpham Estate I’d received as a gift, were probably the seminal moments. I started a blog called English Wine Lovers which eventually led to creating Wine Cellar Door.


What is your background?

I did a degree in Statistics at University of Bath and started out in the pharmaceuticals industry but decided supply and demand would be more in my favour and I (plus my mathematical skills) moved into a business environment. I worked in banking, CRM, management consultancy and then public sector tourism, before I found myself implementing e-commerce solutions for major retailers.

Why did you launch the Wine Cellar Door website and the online shop?

When I started visiting vineyards as a tourist for my blog it became clear that while it wasn’t difficult to identify vineyards, it was almost impossible to search for those you could visit, their opening times, and what facilities they offered. To me, it was like an online shop – finding a dress that is red with long sleeves is technically similar to finding a vineyard with a restaurant that is open on a Tuesday! I built the first simple website myself and we are now on the third iteration, with upgrades happening all the time. Our growth is up 50% year on year overall, with the second half of this year almost double because of the online shop. The Wine Cellar Door website and App are tourism resources, so during the pandemic, the lack of visitors led to building the online shop. I don’t hold stock, the shop links to the individual producer’s website to process the purchases. With some nice PR, that’s really proved a growing area. Also we are increasingly being approached about partnerships, which are great for exposure as I’m very keen to get producers seen outside the world of wine. For example, Ashling Park are now partnering with Nick Munro, who makes gorgeous wine coolers, so they will be generating content for one another. Lots more of these are in the pipeline, too.

What is the3bottles e-commerce service?

During the pandemic all online shops, even the more ropey ones, saw increases in wine sales – and some realised they were only making a fraction of their potential. I think that reaching consumers through direct sales will not only continue but become an increasingly important part of the ‘pie’. I launched ‘the3bottles’ to provide English and Welsh vineyards and wineries with a modern, profitable e-commerce approach. The route to the on-trade will return, and we certainly need local restaurants, but the focus of the3bottles is direct to consumer, as a tool for increasing revenue. We provide bespoke e-commerce online solutions, working with the vineyard’s brand and designers. We are neither the most expensive, nor the cheapest. What our websites do deliver is a tool that will help producers make money. It doesn’t need to be scary; we guide clients through the process, but the more they put in the more they will get out. Most people don’t have experience in briefing a state-of-the-art website, so we adopt a duty of care. That’s why it’s upsetting when we see people charged a fortune for websites that don’t deliver sales. We have built websites for clients such as Dermot Sugrue, Winbirri, Fox & Fox and Ashling Park as well as educator Enjoy Discovering Wine. While initially we focussed solely on selling online, we are now working across the whole of direct to consumer, integrating not just tours and events, but also tasting room bookings, cellar door sales, wine clubs and more. This new approach is what we’ve just delivered for Furleigh Estate and Rebecca, the owner there, can barely believe how much turnover has increased.

The future of Wine Clubs

For the past couple of years, I have been attending the’ Direct to Consumer Wine Symposium’ in California, as well as visiting vineyards and wineries there. So many US wineries have fantastic mailing lists and wine clubs. In fact, during the horrific wildfires earlier in the year, many said that the regular income of their wine club customers was crucial. I think UK wineries should follow this example as there is so much potential for the subscription model here, giving exclusivity to, and rewarding, loyal customers. We can integrate a phenomenal piece of wine club software, used in the US, into the website build. Mailing lists are the single most important way to direct traffic to your website and generate sales. It never ceases to amaze me when I see producer websites that don’t even allow email address capture, or producers who are “shy” about emailing their subscribers!

You must have a team – or are you superwoman?

The same team works across Wine Cellar Door and the3bottles. My developer is the key player, he is very geeky and a bit shy; we work incredibly well together and he is brilliant at taking my ideas and bringing them to life. Luckily, I speak quite good ‘geek’! We have a regular photographer, stylist and graphic designer. A new member of the team is helping with software implementations, with a view to becoming technical support. We’ve also recently started an informal intern programme aimed at giving people a bit of work experience and something to talk about in an interview.

What is your view of the future?

We all know that more and more vines are being planted and that there are big stocks of wine – not least the 2018 sparkling which won’t even come to the market for a year or two yet. In very simple terms, those producers who get their heads around selling effectively will do well, those who don’t will end up discounting, being bought out or going out of business. Even those without sophisticated websites are making online sales at the moment and some are now wondering how much more they could add to the bottom line if they do it properly! Commenting on the3bottles, Justin HowardSneyd, wine business consultant, said “There’s no doubt that an integrated Tourism, Cellar Door sales, Wine Club and E-Commerce strategy is crucial to the future success of English Wine Producers. It is not easy, but we need to build the skills.”

JA N UA R Y 2021 | V I N E YA R D



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Flirting with oak.


New Year resolutions

Mat h e

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Increasing numbers of wines are flirting with oak these days, but as so few of them manage to get the balance right I thought it important to highlight a trio of perfectly assembled wines in the hope that keen drinkers can look closely at these recipes and draw inspiration from the way in which each matches its oak mantra perfectly to the fruit involved. Not one of these recipes is the same, though, proving that there is no ‘one size fits all’ regime. Of course, there is one factor linking all three wines – the experience, skill and tasting abilities of their creators. It is no surprise that the three wines opposite are made by three of the most respected gurus in the country. Last year, I noticed a number of ambitious estates releasing wines that pushed their oak treatments a little too far for my tastes. A talented winemaker, who will remain nameless, informed me that oak understanding is woefully

lacking in our industry, adding that winemakers are pushed around by cooperage salespeople often ending up with either ‘safe bet barrels’ which add little flair to their wines or, worse, oak which overshadows the exceptional quality of fruit which we are lucky to harvest, ruining the chances of a wine gaining its deserved clarity and precision of flavour. It is common knowledge that one needs to ‘mix it up’ in the winery, using different coopers, forests, ages and formats of oak to build discreet seasoning and texture in both still and sparkling wines. I hope that we, as an industry, start to share our collective experiences with barrel companies thereby improving their service, ability to listen and taste our wines and then, most importantly, feedback the success of their recommended barrel brokers’ suggestions. If we can shortcut the inevitable years of trial and error which would ordinarily go into experimenting and finessing our oak craft, we could, as one, take an unprecedented step forward with the quality of our elite wines.

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You cannot write an article about oak and English wine without including this breathtakingly beautiful wine. Launched last year, Oak Reserve made the cut in my Finest Fifty of 2020 and this list includes wines from the whole of the planet and not just our lovely little rock. Made from 100% Chardonnay, parcels were selected from three different vintages which were all aged in oak. Winemaker Simon Roberts explained Oak Reserve’s philosophy to me and it is clear that the wide variety of Radoux oak used here is the trick. Medium toast, heavy toast, toasted ends, three-year-old Burgundy and fiveyear-old Loire barrels were all employed to bring innate complexity to the finished wine. The base comes from the 2017 vintage, so this is a keenly youthful creation, but while the fruit is tense, lemony and delicately touched by brioche tones, there is nothing overtly oaky about this wine. Having said this, the label design promises oak, in fact, it looks like a barrel, but this rather enthusiastic packaging vastly overstates this wine’s subtlety and poise. Oak Reserve is, without a doubt, one of the most carefully assembled, barrel-influenced wines made in the UK to date and it is the epitome of the less is more wine mantra.

2014 Hattingley Valley, Kings Cuvée Brut £80.00

This is the most recent release of Kings Cuvée and it is my favourite. Winemaker Emma Rice has further finessed her craft with this stunner and while it is a young wine it has all of the history of this renowned label woven into its fabric. Made wholly from estate fruit, the blend is 45% Pinot Noir, 43% Chardonnay and 12% Pinot Meunier and it is 100% fermented in older oak barrels, some of which date back to the first Emma purchased in 2010. Alongside the lack of new oak, no malolactic is permitted either and this ensures a tense, precisionmade wine. After seven months in barrel on gross lees, it spent a further 52 months on its lees, in bottle, before being disgorged March 2020. Given that this is the oldest wine on the page you might expect that Kings Cuvée might have mellowed somewhat over the last six years, but no. This is an invigorating, youthful and composed beauty with a long, bristlingly refreshing finish. This is the noblest sparkler yet made at HV and it also has the most potential for ageing given its super-coiled, pin-sharp fruit. Epic blending and amazing precision make this a wine worthy of its name.

NV Ridgeview, Limited Edition, Oak Reserve Brut £75.00

Dermot Sugrue has released two of his Dreams and they are both hugely worthy of comment and also completely different in terms of flavour and stance. My headliner, the brand-new, swaggering 2017 Magnum, is a blend of 60% Chardonnay and 40% Pinot Noir, 90% coming from the Mount Harry Vineyard in Lewes and 10% coming from the Storrington Priory Vineyard in Storrington and only 355 magnums were produced. Half was fermented in 500-litre old Burgundy puncheons and no malolactic fermentation was encouraged in barrel. Moving forward Dermot is inching towards using 600-litre ‘demi-muids’. He explained that he loves the old barrels for, ‘the texture, finesse and focus that they bring…there are no overt oak flavours, it’s more the silkiness and elegant expressions I am looking for’. This is an opulent wine with a touch of racy, exposed

flesh and titillating allure. Creamier and more immediate than the 2015, with heroic length and unmistakable class this is a rare treat and it is also incredibly keenly priced when you do the maths! 2015 Sugrue, The Trouble With Dreams (£44.00, bottle, or £224 for 6 bottles, saving £40.00) is feistier, lively, bright and sunny with an icy cold inhalation of amazing fruit, akin to skiing down a stunning slope on a piercingly bright day. It is so pure and so tense, with admirable accuracy and drive, but please drink the 2017 first and move on to this thriller in a decade.

2017 Sugrue South Downs, The Trouble With Dreams £110.00, magnum, or £280.00 for 3 magnums (saving £50)

JA N UA R Y 2021 | V I N E YA R D



The young ones

owderoy Jo C E

The young team at Langham Wine Estate, in Dorset all jumped for joy in November when they were crowned Top Sparkling Wine Producer in the World, at the 2020 International Wine and Spirit competition. Dorset must be cradling some of the best viticulture and winemaking talent in the country as all five traditional method sparkling wines entered achieved between 92 and 96 points in the competition. Progressive and dynamic these bright sparks are using their combined expertise to be creative and innovative, enthusiastically trying out wild yeast ferments, low sulphites, solera systems, perpetual cuvées, reserve wines, Jura styles, frizzante in kegs, and plan to trial lees ageing under cork! They do admit not everything will work, but also that they will not know unless they try! The owner, Justin Langham always had a passion for wine and in 2009 decided to develop his father’s small vineyard into a 12-hectare commercial venture at their Crawthorne Farm making his dream come true! The vineyard is now planted with Chardonnay, Pinot noir, Meunier and Pinot Précoce. All


JA N UA R Y 2021 | V I N E YA R D

are high- graft vines and the most recent plantings are with Fercal rootstocks, after the site experienced some iron chlorosis on their chalky soils. Although situated at around 85m the vines have hardly ever suffered frost damage, even during the late May frosts of 2020. Hedges act as natural windbreaks and help to prevent incoming cold air and open woodland below the vineyards allows colder air to drain easily. Both also provide habitats for beneficial organisms an important consideration for the estate. Langham produces about 50,000 bottles on average with four or five wine styles, including two classic cuvées named after the underlying geology ‘Corallian’ and ‘Culver’. Tommy Grimshaw is the winemaker and at only 24 he must be one of the

youngest in the country. However he already has eight vintages under his belt. “It all started with a summer job at Sharpham Wine Estate when I was 17,” explained Tommy. “I loved the work and returned for the harvest as a cellarhand. But as I was still only 17, I wasn’t allowed to drink any of the wine at the Christmas party!” He exclaimed. Tommy stayed with Sharpham Estate for six years, learning from head winemaker Duncan Schwab and during that time was promoted to assistant winemaker. Tommy joined Langham Wine Estate in 2019 as assistant winemaker. “2020 was my first vintage going solo – I loved it!” Smiled Tommy. Tommy’s inspiration comes from his young and brilliant predecessors; Liam Idzikowski, now winemaker at Danbury Estate and Daniel Ham, who has set up his own contract winery, Off Beat Wines. “I can’t take all the credit with these wines, as I have continued the good work of Liam and Daniel,” commented Tommy. Assistant winemaker, Lauren Brewer, 26, joined Langham in February 2020 after completing a Masters degree in Oenology and Viticulture at Plumpton College, East Sussex. Lauren’s passion for wine started while working in retail for Majestic Wine and gaining a distinction in her Wine and Spirit Education Trust level 3 exams. Innovation is the name of the game at Langham, as the team are buzzing with loads of ideas and want to try new methods. “From 2017, Daniel Ham started using wild yeast fermentations for the base wines, he left the wines unfined and unfiltered, didn’t use enzymes and lowered sulphites. I am continuing his work, and also increasing the amount of oak used, with a selection of second hand barrels,” explained Tommy. “One of the barrels is 25 years old – even older than me!” He added. The ethos at Langham Wine Estates is to create complex and interesting base wines, so that the flavour profile of the wines is not just reliant on lees ageing. “We ferment different parcels separately where possible and are aiming for 50/50 oak. This gives about 80 blending components to play with,” commented >> Tommy. “The wines all undergo malolactic fermentation to soften the

> Jumping for joy with the accolade of top Xxxxx. Sparkling Wine Producer in the World

“Tommy’s inspiration comes from his young and brilliant predecessors”


> Oliver Whitfield: “I love being Xxxxx. in both the vineyard and winery,

producing the quality of fruit that I want to see coming into the winery" > Tommy labelling Xxxxx.

> Tommy and Lauren: “The Frizzante Xxxxx. kegs are bit of fun and aim to make


English wine accessible to all people”

<< acidity and with the complexity, weight and balance achieved in the blending, we usually only need to use 2g to 3g per litre of sugar for the dosage,” he added. Vineyard manager Oliver Whitfield, 31, decided on a career in wine production after first working in New Zealand in 2008. The 9,500 tonne harvest did not put him off and he cemented his practical experience with a Foundation Degree in Wine Production from Plumpton College. On graduation from Plumpton, Olly joined the vineyard management and establishment contract business, VineWorks. “This was a great way to experience different growing conditions and management systems in lots of vineyards,” commented Olly. “I then joined Exton Park in Hampshire, working with vineyard manager Fred Langdale, during the summer, and then with Corine Seely, head winemaker, in the winery at harvest,” he continued. “I love being in both the vineyard and winery, producing the quality of fruit that I want to see coming into the winery,” he added. Langham Wine Estate are constantly working towards reducing chemical intervention. “My philosophy in the vineyard is ‘best practice’ and keeping a close eye on things. I use minimal sprays and ensure correct application – I’ll go out at midnight if that’s when the wind and temperature conditions are optimal,” explained Olly. “We are also discussing the WineGB

JA N UA R Y 2021 | V I N E YA R D

Sustainable Wines of Great Britain scheme,” he added. Olly is assisted in the vineyard by Georgina Crawshaw, and his Jack Russell terrier, Wilson. The enthusiasm to experiment extends to the vineyard, and Olly is currently trialling four different pruning systems with single and double guyot, spur pruning and an adaptation of the Chablis-style system used in Champagne, “it is a complicated system, but I want to see what happens to yields and fruit quality,” explained Olly. Olly trialled a leaf stripper and was pleased with the results, so Langham Wine Estate now have their own Collard pulsed air system leaf remover. “We use this to help remove flower caps, and then again around veraison to expose the fruit, improve air flow and reduce humidity in the canopy, and it also speeds up picking,” Olly commented. As we have chalky soil we are also trialling chelated iron administered through spikes to inject iron into the soil once a year before the growing season,” he added. The philosophy of minimal intervention follows into the winery, a characterful barn that combines old and new, with temperature controlled stainless steel tanks and a wide selection of oak barriques. The base wine fermentations are with wild yeasts, the wines are generally unfined and unfiltered, they are handled with care by a gentle peristaltic pump. The winery has no insulation, “we can throw open the barn doors and cold

“The enthusiasm to experiment extends to the vineyard”

stabilise the wines with no energy costs – but it’s a bit chilly for us,” commented Lauren. The unique homemade barrel stacking system means every barrel is accessible as battonage is carried out four or five times. The team may tread lightly with the winemaking, but not with record keeping. Data collection is key, from the vineyard to the wines, “we want to know which parcels produce the best fruit, and the best wines, and why,” commented Tommy. One of the latest experiments is a try-out of a keg frizzante! Using KeyKegs and the ‘Col Fondo’ method, where the wine is not disgorged after its second fermentation, Tommy and Lauren have created probably the first keg frizzante-

style in the UK using English-grown grapes. “The Frizzante kegs are a bit of fun and aim to make English wine accessible to all people,” commented Lauren. The product was due to be trialled at a wine bar in Bristol, but with the pandemic this will have to wait. Their curiosity is relentless – Tommy and Lauren have taken the best 500 litres of Chardonnay from 2017, 2018 and 2019 to use for an oak ‘solera’ style system, “to provide a perpetual cuvée,” explains Tommy. “We are planning to create a premium Blanc de Blancs, inspired by the Champenois Jacques Selosse, which will have at least three years on lees,” he continued. They have created underground concrete tanks for the

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storage of reserve wines. Anyone for cricket? The Langham crew are all also great friends, “this helps communication enormously, especially when you are tired and under pressure at harvest, in order to support each other. A game of cricket while waiting for the last press load is a great stress reliever,” commented Tommy, with the winery cricket bat in hand, “and Olly’s party trick is unicycling,” he laughed. A welcoming place to visit, Langham Wine Estate values its local and tourist customers providing lots of events and entertainment throughout the year. Even during the pandemic, the team have been imaginative, quickly turning around an >>  01293 554750  Unit 4, 72 Bell Lane, Uckfield, East Sussex TN22 1QL Industrial cleaning equipment, pressure washers, scrubber dryers, industrial vacuums from Nilfisk, Karcher and MAC We are a leading supplier and an approved repair centre with 50 years trading within the cleaning industry. • Fully trained Service engineers • Specialising in Hire, Sales, Servicing and Repairs • Knowledgeable customer support • Spare parts and accessories available • Visit our showroom

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EDITOR'S VISIT > Justin Langham, is incredibly supportive Xxxxx. of his young team and not afraid to roll up his sleeve and get stuck in when needed

> Tying down Xxxxx.

<< open barn to create an atmospheric venue for evening entertainment with good wine, food and live music. During the summer they cleared areas in the vineyard to provide walks, scenic picnic tables and special hampers, in order to provide visitor experiences while meeting government guidelines. Fiona Wright looks after sales and marketing along with Hetty Abbott, who is aided by her loyal Labrador, Pepper who is a prominent feature of the cellar door shop. Although the focus is on local sales, some wine is also is exported to Sweden. The tasting room is run by the charismatic Italian, Fed Firino, who studied Wine Business at Plumpton. Fed is also the instigator and creative inspiration of the evening events. The energetic Tommy isn’t content with just one full time job and, anxious to share the wonderful wines of England and Wales, he set up (with a couple of likeminded enthusiastic friends) ‘Emerging Vines’ an online retail platform, which uses the hashtag #englishwinemovement. “English wine is often perceived as expensive, so we started offering home tastings so we could explain the hard work behind the label and convince consumers of the value for money,” Tommy commented. They quickly adapted to virtual tastings in ‘lockdown’ which have really taken off. “Of course, we sell Langham wines,” he added. The owner, Justin Langham, is incredibly supportive of his young team and not afraid to roll up his sleeve and get stuck in when needed, “we couldn’t do this without Justin’s support – we are incredibly lucky,” commented Tommy. So what is next for the team? “I really enjoyed being involved with red winemaking at Sharpham, so we hope to produce a red in 2021, if possible, with Pinot Noir and Pinot Précoce. It will be interesting to see the results of Olly’s Chablis pruning and I want to try hyperoxygenation next year - so watch this space!” Said Tommy.

“We hope to produce a red in 2021”



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Giving frost the cold shoulder


JA N UA R Y 2021

The 2020 WineGB frost survey, carried out by Stephen Skelton, head of the WineGB viticulture working group and Steve Wain from Mapman, recorded the impact of frost during the Spring. The survey received 198 separate frost reports, and 60% of these reported that they had no frost protection in place. According to the survey, for those that had protection, the most common methods were bougies (frost candles), followed by fans, and sprays. “The first step is to estimate what the likely crop losses from frost are, and the value of the losses for example over a 10 year period, to decide how much it is worth spending on protection. There are passive measures which can be taken to reduce the level of frost damage, as well as several active methods, those requiring inputs of materials, machinery and labour during a frost event,” explains Stephen Skelton, viticulturist, Master of Wine and author of Wine Growing in Great Britain. “The best method of frost protection is to select a site that is not in a frost pocket. However, finding such a site is not always possible and you may find that your site has areas that are prone

Photo © Bothy Vineyard

As the new growing season starts, excitement and anticipation of the 2021 vintage begins, but is tempered by the many hurdles of grape growing in a cool climate - the first being a visit from Jack Frost! The late frosts in May 2020 were devastating for many vineyards, reducing their yields significantly. It is important to know your enemy and understand your frost risks. Vineyard asks: How does frost damage the vine? How can you predict when and where a frost will occur? How can you reduce the risk of frost? And what should you do if your vines are damaged by frost?

to frost where there are depressions or low-lying corners where the cold air can settle,” he added.

What is frost and what does it do to the vine?

Dormant vines over the winter are perfectly capable of withstanding the normal winter temperatures in the UK, but as soon as they start to wake up in the Spring and get to the ‘woolly bud’ growth stage, the young tissues become vulnerable. Different growth stages have different ‘critical’ temperatures. “The critical temperature is the point that 50% of buds or shoots are killed and it varies by phenological growth stage,” explains Dr Greg Dunn, head of Plumpton College, in Sussex’s wine department. “When the temperature drops below ‘critical’ ice crystals form inside cells and damage the cell contents, causing tissue death,” Greg added. There is some minor variation between Vitis vinifera vine varieties in their tolerance of cold. “However, the main difference in frost susceptibility between cultivars is related to phenology, with some cultivars bursting later than others, thus being exposed to fewer frost events”, Greg continued. >>

60% of vineyards that responded reported that they had no frost protection in place

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GRAPE GROWING How do you to predict when and where a frost will occur? Reliable frost forecasts are essential for determining if frost control measures are needed, along with a good understanding of the likely frost pockets in the vineyard. But is it a radiation frost, a ground frost, air frost or even an advection frost? It’s important to know your enemy before starting the fight. Professor Steve Dorling is a Viti-Climatologist at the University of East Anglia and Chief Executive of Weatherquest Ltd, a company specialising in supporting growers through weather and climate services. “There are two main types of frost, radiation frost and advection frost,” Professor Dorling explained. “After sunset, very light winds, clear skies and a relatively dry ground all encourage the temperature of the ground surface to fall quickly, as it radiates energy away. These are the


Photo © Bothy Vineyard

ingredients which increase the chances of a local radiation frost, when the temperature falls to 0°C or below. A breeze helps to mix warmer air, while a blanket of cloud is also very effective in intercepting the energy being lost, re-radiating it back to the ground. This can slow or even reverse the temperature fall. A wet soil will also cool more slowly – a recent wet spell or a soil type which holds moisture better will reduce the risk of radiation frost. In radiation frost conditions, the heavy cold air forming on vineyard slopes will naturally drain downslope and collect in relatively low-lying areas, especially when the cold airflow is impeded in some way,” he explained. “By contrast, an advection frost is normally a more widespread event which results from a cold airmass covering the region with sub-zero temperatures. An advection frost event is more likely when we have a sustained period of winds from the north or east in winter or early spring. It is more difficult to protect

against because a large cold airmass will not discriminate between sites,” he continued. “Sensitive vine buds will typically be at heights between ground level and where air temperatures are routinely measured, at 1.5m to 2m. In radiation frost situations, overnight ground temperature can often be several degrees or more below the 2m air temperature, so great care is needed when referring to temperature forecasts – a ground frost is different to an air frost at 2m!” Even a well selected site can be unfortunate enough to occasionally experience frost during critical growth periods, so vigilance at those times is especially important. “Alerts from strategically positioned weather sensors in the vineyard coupled with specialist weather forecast advice will allow you to plan ahead and take frost mitigation action,” said Professor Dorling. Weatherquest will launch the IceQuest service in the New Year in time for the 2021 >> bud-burst frost risk period.

VOEN Anti Frost Heater for vineyards

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How can you reduce the risk of frost? The best frost protection technique starts with a good site, but even these can succumb occasionally. Breaky Bottom vineyard, not far from the Sussex coast, experienced its first ever commercial losses in 45 years during the severe frosts in May 2020, losing over 80% of their crop! “There are a number of passive measures that can be taken. If a site is likely to have a problem, then planting varieties that are naturally late in breaking out of dormancy would be advantageous. For example, Chardonnay is the most susceptible of the ‘Champagne’ varieties because it breaks bud the earliest and Meunier the least susceptible as it is the last to break dormancy,” explained Stephen Skelton. Keeping alleys clean and mown around bud burst avoids obstructing the flow of cooler air to lower levels. “Long, un-mown grass, which holds moisture, is the worst alleyway cover and likely to make frost damage worse,” Stephen added. Other methods to reduce the risk of frost damage include pruning later in the spring to delay bud-burst slightly, leaving canes long in a vertical position or leaving additional sacrificial canes. Spur pruning is not common in the UK, but this can be considered for frost prone sites as the mature wood offers some protection. “Vertical canes are less likely to be damaged than horizontal ones, as the frost cannot settle on them, but there is a risk of knocking off the young shoots when tying down and the job of tying down is slower, “ commented Stephen. Mechanical pre-pruning can leave sacrificial canes and allow the final manual pruning to be delayed as late as feasible. A higher fruiting wire might just buy a little extra warmth also. Dr Alistair Nesbitt is a Viti-Climatologist, based in the UK, and an expert in how weather and climate interface with wine production. Speaking at a WineGB webinar, Alistair explained the importance of “preparing for frost events, understanding the risks in your vineyard, the types of frost and planning accordingly.” Factors affecting the impact of frost include topography, soil moisture vine phenology, and temperature inversion strength. But Alistair warns, “there is no magic solution and no 100% guarantee. What works one year, in one location, may not work in another year.” Alistair therefore recommends an approach of ‘layered’ frost protection, with a system for protecting against classic radiation frost, along with a back-up system for colder temperatures. “VineScapes offer a ‘Frost Risk Audit’ service which provides historic data for a vineyard along with a site risk assessment and analysis of past frost damage patterns. We supply a tailored report with site specific recommendations to mitigate future frost events, including equipment recommendations, as required,” explained Alistair. Ben Kantsler, Vineyard Manager of one of the largest estates, Nyetimber, has over 150 hectares spread over eight sites. “We carefully map the cold areas, so that we can then decide where we will need to have protection in place and what type. We have a wide range of frost protection methods including frost busters, fans and bougies, depending on the site. We can’t use the frost busters at vineyards with close neighbours due to the noise, so we use bougies,” commented Ben. “We prune late in the more frost risky areas and may leave sacrificial canes,” he added.

“There is no magic solution and no 100% guarantee”

Photo © Julia Claxton

Frost candles


Frost candles, also known as bougies are probably the most commonly used form of frost protection in the UK. They work by introducing lots of small sources of heat into the vineyard, which is more effective that one larger source. Most are now using fats or waxes from sustainable sources. Although there are no capital costs, there is a cost of the candles and the labour needed to light them during the night. The manufacturers state that around 200- 500 candles are recommended per hectare, depending on >>

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GRAPE GROWING << the situation, but hopefully they are only needed in the frost prone areas of the vineyard. “Stopgel Green was launched in 2016 and these candles contain stearin which is 100% natural. In fact, the calorific value is higher than with the previous petroleum-based candles so they generate a little more heat,” explained Cédric Chazalet. Matt Strugnell, vineyard manager at Ridgeview Estate, in East Sussex, uses frost candles and has also been trialling electrically heated fruiting wires. “We have been using Stopgel Green bougies and will also try a new company this year, the Crop Candle Co, just to compare. I am keen to ensure that the candles are as sustainable as possible and the fats responsibly sourced,” said Matt. Matt monitors the weather forecast, using a company called Frosted Earth, and also the ClimateVine app, which he has found reliable. “We have a weather station from Soil Moisture Sense to monitor temperature as well as the forecasts, and are on alert and ready to go if temperatures start to drop,” added Matt.

better than the static Frost Guard in vineyards. We also supply mobile and static wind machines but they need an inversion layer to be effective and can have noise issues,” explained Patrik Stynen, Director, Agro Frost.

Frost Buster and Frost Guard

Electric heating cables

If you do not mind spending your night driving around the vineyard, then the Frost Buster is an effective way of raising the temperature by pumping out warm air, which the manufacturers claim can reach 25m to 30m either side. The supplier, Agro Frost, provides an assessment of the vineyard and suggests a circuit route for the driver. The cost of the unit is around £20,000 but this should cover eight hectares. “We have seen a change in the frost incidences here in the UK and in France over the past few years, with more cold winds from the north and north east. In these situations, the mobile Frost Buster seems to work


Tow and Blow As the name suggests the Tow and Blow is a large portable fan towed by a tractor that can be taken to the frost risk area of the vineyard. Using a diesel engine to drive the fan, it draws warmer air from above an inversion layer, blowing it into the vineyard, pushing out the colder air. The fan can also rotate and oscillate. The cost is around £30,000-£35,000 and the manufacturers claim it can cover over four hectares of vines and once temperature parameters are set, it can be left unattended overnight to turn on automatically. One advantage is that there is no installation and planning consent is not needed. It also covers the largest area of any device," commented Richard Witt from Vitifruit Equipment.

These are electric cables running along the fruiting wire that deliver heat. They can be thermostatically controlled and are becoming more common and they work well for classic frost radiation situations. Ridgeview have been trialling heated electric cables on the fruiting wires on five rows of Chardonnay. “We haven’t seen any frost damage as yet, so they seem to work,” said Matt Strugnell, Vineyard Manager. “I think they would be costly across a large area, as the power required to supply the electricity is 10 Watts per metre – I don’t think we would be able to achieve this without a generator,” he added.

> Tow and Blow

Cold Air Drains These are positioned in the lowest and coolest areas in the vineyard. A large fan inside sucks the cold air up and propels it into the atmosphere. It is effective, if in the right location. However, like other types of fans, this will only work when there is warmer air to draw from.

Overhead sprinkler irrigation

Overhead sprinkler irrigation is reported to be one of the best methods of protection. At the point that water freezes it releases latent heat, keeping the temperature of the grapevine tissue at 0°C, protecting the vine as it is enveloped in ice. This system is rare in the UK for vines but used by some fruit growers. The advantage of the sprinkler system frost protection is that it works with both radiation frosts and advection frosts and doesn’t rely on an inversion layer of warmer air above the ground. It has its challenges, such as the quantity of water required, which can be around 30,000 – 50,000 litres/ha/hour. “So you would probably need a reservoir as big as an Olympic sized swimming pool,” commented Alistair Nesbitt. However, there are some trials taking place at NIAB with low volume fan jets, which lowers >> water use.











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GRAPE GROWING Portable ovens

Not yet in the UK, the AntiFrost VOEN is a portable oven that burns wood pellets to heat the vineyard. The ovens can be positioned in the frost risk areas and lit when there is a risk of cold temperatures. They use renewable energy and can be refilled for use year after year. “About 30 per hectare are needed, depending on the situation and the cost is around €300 per unit. The wood pellets can be sourced locally from sustainable sources and are smoke-free,” explained Jakob Fausboell, from Voen. “We have units being trialled in vineyards in Germany, Austria and Switzerland so far the data is showing good results,” he added.

Biostimulants and polymer sprays Biostimulants contain substances or micro-organisms intended to stimulate the plant and help tolerance to abiotic stress. Lallemand offers a product containing a natural amino-acid which they claim improves the vines tolerance of frost. Copper sprays, which are fungicide and bactericide, may reduce the

population of certain bacteria (such as pseudomonas species) which act as nucleation points for ice on green tissue, and lessen the incidence of frost damage. “It’s difficult to reduce the population of bacteria as there are such vast numbers in the soil, but keeping the herbage around the vines short should help,” explained Rob Saunders. “Polymers are also used, but I haven’t seen much evidence of protection against frost damage. However, I have some confidence in the amino-acid based products, “Rob continued

Frost insurance NFU Mutual are monitoring the demand for frost insurance as the viticulture sector in this country grows and develops. “Currently, demand for frost insurance for vineyards is low and other risk management techniques for dealing with late frosts are generally favoured by vineyard owners. In order to create a workable insurance market for any given risk, there needs to be a baseline and consistent level of demand for the cover, or the net result is a market that doesn’t really work, with high levels of minimum premiums and large excesses, explained David Harrison, NFU Mutual Sector Lead for Farming and Agriculture.

Monitors There are several options available that measure temperature and send alerts. The monitor systems from Soil Moisture Sense were originally for soil moisture, as the name suggests, but the technology is also able to provide a flexible range of services including electronic rain gauges, humidity and temperature measures. These are sent as reports to the grower’s mobile phones. “The frost alarms are usually sent to several numbers, to ensure that at least one person wakes up,” commented Peter White from Soil Moisture Sense.


Photo © Langham Wine Estate

And what should you do if your vines are damaged by frost?

JA N UA R Y 2021 | V I N E YA R D

As heart-breaking as it may be to witness a frost damaged vineyard, economics will likely dictate the next steps. Removal of the damaged tissues may be more aesthetically pleasing, but there is a labour cost involved, and it may be better to just leave the vines. “The vines are likely to re-shoot, there may be some (smaller) secondary crop, but more importantly the vine will form a canopy, so there will be adequate photosynthesis and carbohydrate storage taking place, and wood to choose for next year’s pruning. As the growth stages are delayed by a few weeks, bud differentiation will take place when the weather is likely to be warmer, encouraging good fruitfulness for the following year,” explained Dr Greg Dunn. After the late frost incidence in 2020, Matt Strugnell, along with Alex Valsecchi, Vineyard Manager at Albury Organic Vineyard in Surrey, decided to undertake their own trial which they will run over a couple of years, using an area of vines that suffered frost damage. “We have three treatments, firstly ‘do nothing’, secondly remove all shoots to promote secondary buds, and thirdly prune the damaged tissue,” explained Matt. “So far doing nothing looks as good as anything else,” he exclaimed. Site selection along with good management practice reduces the reliance on frost protection methods which can be expensive and also have an environmental impact. However, it is possible, with climate change, that frost incidences will become more frequent in the late spring and frost damage may not be avoidable, even at a good site. Understanding your vineyard’s topography, where the cold air flows and accumulates in frost pockets, will help planning the protection methods – both passive and active. Technology such as monitors, sensors and alarms, along with weather forecast services will help anticipate frost events. The best solution for your site will likely depend on costs, available resources, practicalities, expected crop values– and forward planning to make sure everything is in place before the frost arrives!

Mat St

r ve

The vine post


A year unlike any other. This season had its own unique set of characteristics, here are some reflections on what has defined the year.

Frost Unfortunately, 2020 was marked with widespread frost damage. The conditions were similar to what was seen in 2017 in the sense that it lasted for several nights and in some places, it was the dreaded advection (air) frost rather than the more commonly seen radiation (ground) frosts. Many forms of frost protection are only effective against ground frosts which may have been a sour point for some growers. What made the 2020 frosts particularly painful was the timing: the most severe frost events came in the middle of May, several weeks later than what occurred in 2017, and to add insult to injury, some growers had also been caught by radiation frosts in mid-April. The late timing of these frosts made it very difficult for the vines to recover and produce a secondary crop. In 2017 the shoots were still relatively small and most were completely destroyed by the frost this meant the secondary shoots emerged fairly swiftly and although much of the growth was from the crown, it grew fairly homogeneously. In 2020, many shoots were so far advanced that much of the lower tissue of the shoot survived with the upper part succumbing to frost. This led to some canopies being tricky to manage, there were secondary shoots, partially damaged shoots and some undamaged primary shoots. In this situation, the canopy was growing at different rates and there was a lot of variation between shoot and fruit development. This meant there was seemingly no optimal height to set foliage

wires during the rapid growth stage. Eventually, frost-damaged canopies did fill out and reached some degree of normality, all we could do was nurture the fruit that was there.

Low bunch weights A common theme that was reported this season was that average bunch weights were low. This would obviously be the case for vineyards damaged by frost, but this was something that seemed to occur across many sites that were not affected by frost. There is no obvious direct cause of this but many vineyards were on the back of a bountiful crop in 2018 and 2019 which may have led to slightly fatigued vines. Temperatures leading up to flowering in 2019 were unusually low at times. During that period, there were nutrient deficiencies showing on the leaves in some areas, this year's inflorescences would have been initiated around that time so this may have been a factor that led to small bunches this season. Another feature of this season was some extended periods of low rainfall which also could have played a part in the reduced bunch sizes.

Early ripening It's not all bad news, the lead up to flowering in 2020 was not marred by cooler temperatures, and in fact, flowering went through earlier than usual and more or less without incident. There were a few drops of rain in places, but nothing torrential. At this point, most were predicting an early harvest, but somewhere along the way faith was lost and many harvest dates were pushed back to the usual time frame. A couple of hot spells in August and September

and hey presto almost everything was ripe, the early flowering coupled with those heatwaves and smaller than usual bunches made for an exceptional harvest in terms of fruit quality. It was a tricky year at times for vinegrowers, but the winemakers were delivered beautifully ripe fruit to work with, surely 2020 will be remembered as a “vintage year”. Contract growers and those selling their fruit on the open market will have met all ripeness targets set by the wineries - a consolation for any reduced yields.

Disease Another positive note from this season was the lack of disease, the relatively dry conditions meant that as long as reasonably robust spray cover was maintained through the growing season, canopies and fruit stayed clean from fungal pathogens. As we moved through October, the rains came and Botrytis did of course set in as by that time the fruit was very ripe. The leaves have now fallen and we now start the process again and look ahead to the upcoming season. We don’t yet know what the challenges and triumphs of next year will be for UK viticulture but what we do know is, as always, it will be a year unlike any other.

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Representing you Working in partnership with Vineyard magazine for a developing UK wine industry. WineGB is the national trade body representing the vine growers and winemakers of Great Britain from the largest producers to small hobbyists. Our members work together with the organisation to develop strategy, expertise and marketing opportunities for long-term, sustainable success.

If you are interested in wine production in the UK find out more about WineGB and join us. Visit our website

Five New Year’s resolutions Achievable steps to get 2021 off to a great start. The start of each new year brings new beginnings, a chance for a fresh start. As we bid farewell to the rollercoaster ride that was 2020, we look forward to a new growing season, the release of new vintages and, for some, the planting of new vines. Many eagerly await the return of crowds of visitors to the vineyard, others look forward to attending summer fetes and trade shows, and the chance to once again see fully booked restaurants and busy bars serving local English and Welsh wines by the plenty. As 2020 draws to a close, you may have already mused over some personal New Year’s resolutions – perhaps to lose weight, get fitter, quit smoking, or find more time for your hobbies. But how many have considered resolutions which will help your business grow more successfully over the coming 12 months? Below are five ideas to help you to do just that.

1. Learn something new


If you know which areas of your vineyard, winery, or brand you want to develop over the next few months, but don’t quite have all the information to hand, it’s time to arm yourself with more knowledge. Since we started our webinar programme on 5 May 2020, we’ve hosted sessions on an extensive and diverse range of topics encompassing business and marketing, viticulture and winemaking. There has been excellent take up from members with above average attendance and live viewer numbers peaking at over 100 for some of the meetings. Our webinars will continue into 2021 so that members can learn more from industry experts from the comfort of your own office. While most live webinars had been open to the entire industry, from next year onwards, they will only

Thanks very much to all for organising the Viticultural Technical Conference. Very good.

I have been in this industry for 30 years but have never seen our national association so active and relevant. Thank you to the whole team. Peter Gladwin, Nutbourne Vineyard

be available to members. The full programme of webinars is available on the WineGB website in the ‘Become a Member’ section. Upcoming webinars: ◆ Principles of winter pruning ◆ WineGB Tourism Charter of Standards ◆ Running a successful wine club ◆ Live legal Q&A with Paris Smith ◆ Website and SEO ◆ Winery hygiene and sanitation

JA N UA R Y 2021 | V I N E YA R D

This year, the WineGB Business and Marketing conference will be focussed on tourism – a vital part of many wine businesses. Available to members only, the conference, will be a virtual event comprising of three mornings of presentations, held from 23 to 25 February. Chaired by Mark Harvey, chief commercial officer of Chapel Down, inspiring speakers will include individuals from the world of tourism, both here and overseas. Further information, together with the conference brochure and line up of speakers, will be available on the WineGB website.

2. Put a marketing strategy in place

After all, failure to plan is planning to fail. Spending some time at the start of the year strategically planning which direction your sales, marketing and brand identity are heading can pay dividends, especially when it comes to creating targeted content on social media. At WineGB, our marketing responsibility is to add value to individual producers' efforts. While we cannot promote or sell your wines for you, we can provide a platform to make this easier. At the end of 2020, with input from our newly appointed CEO, Simon Thorpe MW, we released our 2021 marketing report. Within it, we set out exactly what we are hoping to deliver for our members, and how we will achieve these aims. Highlights from our strategic marketing objectives include: ◆ To develop the Classic Method production values and messaging and to create an appropriate strategy for still wines. ◆ To identify consumer groups to help members with effective marketing and communications. ◆ To develop the international market as exports start to open up again. ◆ To negotiate better exposure for mediumsized members at international trade shows. For instance, we are working with the London Wine Fair organisers to provide WineGB members of all sizes affordable opportunities to exhibit. Members will be able to take anything from a small booth to their own space within the Fair’s dedicated WineGB area.

3. Get more social Last year was the first full year we were able to demonstrate the tangible benefits of running a carefully planned and consistently implemented social media strategy. Thanks to our social media manager Joana Albogas, our social media channels grew significantly in 2020, and we now have over 6,000 followers on Instagram, nearly 3,700 on Facebook, and over 15,700 on Twitter. We have created and implemented a wide range of successful campaigns, such as the #EnglishWineNight, #WelshWineNight, #EnglishWineWeek and #GreatBritishWineNight, across all of these platforms. We want members to benefit directly from this growing and very engaged audience. So,

Well done to the whole marketing team at WineGB for a very impressive media programme reaching an amazingly diverse audience and raising the profile of Wines of Great Britain. Excellent work. Denise Santilli, Lynch Hill Vineyard

Find us on: Instagram-Square @winegb Facebook-square @WineGB TWITTER @Wine_GB if there is only one new thing you start doing on social media in 2021, please make sure you remember to tag WineGB into all your posts, pictures, stories and videos so that we can share them.

4. To share more data During 2020, WineGB hosted five UK vineyard surveys in partnership with one of our patrons, MapMan. These surveys covered everything from budburst to frost, flowering, véraison and harvesting and in total, over 200 growers entered data on 1,075 individual occasions. If you are a grower, it’s still not too late to submit your information in one or more of the surveys. Gathering this information provides a uniquely holistic view of UK viticulture, enabling growers to understand how their sites and varieties are faring compared to others. In the long term this will help both current and future vineyard owners with site selection, variety choice, frost protection measures and harvest timings, so if you didn’t participate this year, please do consider the benefits of sharing your data in 2021. To see the results of the surveys, please visit:

5. Join WineGB

Did you know that in 2020 over 90 new members signed up to WineGB? As you can see from some of the comments dotted around these pages, we have had some great feedback from our members this year about the services and benefits they receive from being part of the UK’s leading wine industry trade body. If you haven’t joined us yet, why not make it one of the first things you do in 2021?

There has never been a better time to join the industry’s leading trade body, Wines of Great Britain. Email today to find out how WineGB can help you achieve your 2021 goals while also strengthening and furthering our entire sector's growth.


 01858 467792 paper-plane  JA N UA R Y 2021 | V I N E YA R D



Cutting edge Winter pruning is probably the most important, most expensive, and most challenging task in the vineyard year. Vineyard looks at cutting the cost with mechanical pre-pruners and a new product for protecting pruning wounds from grapevine trunk disease. In a cool viticulture climate, such as the UK, winter pruning is particularly important as the vine has to have the correct crop load, one which it is able to ripen during the length of the growing season. Getting the bud numbers right will help save money later as canopy management and maintaining vine balance will be easier, correct shoot positioning and density will aid disease management, and reduced shading will allow for better bud development and potential fruitfulness for the following season. Pruning vines in the UK has traditionally been done manually, is a major vineyard operation cost and relies on the availability of a skilled workforce. Many wine regions have turned to mechanical pre-pruning to save costs in

> Billy Edwards of SJ Barnes Ltd operates the pre-pruner (I.c), mounted on a Fendt 210V at Rathfinney Vineyard, Alfriston, Sussex


time and labour. Considered to be more suited to spur pruning methods, many cane-pruned vineyards in the UK are now trialling mechanical pre-pruners with encouraging results. Sam Barnes, owner of vineyard establishment, management and machine harvesting contractors SJ Barnes Ltd, is now offering a mechanical pre-pruning contract service. The German manufactured ERO Binger combination, which has been supplied by viticultural machinery specialists N P Seymour, is front mounted and uses the same mast as the ERO trimmer and leaf stripper tractor attachments. “The machine can leave canes long, if needed, giving options for the final pruning, such as providing sacrificial canes in the event of a late frost, or

> Provitis at Yotes Court: "With the pre-pruner the time and labour saving is huge! allowing the time to prune later,” explained Sam. “The savings are made on the reduced time needed for pulling out, as the machine removes about 20% to 30% of the wood – especially those annoying wispy ends and tendrils!” Rathfinny Estate, East Sussex, is one of the first to use the mechanical pre-pruning service from Sam Barnes, of SJ Barnes Ltd. Vineyard Manager, Cameron Roucher, is trialling the machine on just under 60 hectares of the older vines. “I have used pre-pruners many times previously in Australia and New Zealand, but this is the first time here. The aim is to remove the tops of the canes, about 40-50cm, those that have grabbed hold of the wires with tendrils,” commented Cameron. Simpsons Wine Estate has also tried out pre-pruning on 30 hectares, removing 40% to 50% of wood. “We are not sure of the cost savings as yet, we will have a better idea at the end. We have left a sacrificial cane, which we will hand prune later,” commented Darryl Kemp, Vineyard Manager.

“The cost of the machine may be out of reach for smaller operations, and soil compaction could be an issue on some sites, but for me pulling out is less arduous and the consistency of cane length which allows tying down to be faster and more consistent,” Darryl added. “There are many advantages including speed, cost, ability to delay pruning. It could also be a good option for small vineyards as well as larger, as you are better able to allocate labour,” he added. David Sayell from Vitifruit Equipment has a ‘try before you buy’ policy, “it’s a lot of money to spend, so I want people to have a go.” One of the first to try the Provitis pre-pruner is Tony Purdie from Yotes Court Vineyard. This is the first year that Tony has trialled pre-pruning in the vineyard and selected the Provitis barrel unit as he already had a suitable mast attachment. Tony is following the gentle pruning method of Simonet and Sirch, whereby minimal cuts are made to the vine and the emphasis is ensuring continuous sap >>



> The aim is to remove the tops of the canes, about 40-50cm, those that have grabbed hold of the wires with tendrils << flow. “Mechanical pre-pruning doesn’t go against the Simonet and Sirch and can still be used. Initially our young vineyard was trained to single guyot, so mechanical pre-pruning would not have been suitable, as we would not have been able to keep enough cane length, but now we are converting to double guyot I am able to try out pre-pruning,” explained Tony. “With the pre-pruner the time and labour saving is huge! Pulling out the canes can be a least half of the labour cost, so by going through with the pre-pruner we are lightening our labour requirements, but I will still be using some contract help. I will add up the costs of winter pruning when we have finished but I reckon we have saved a quarter on our bill,” he added.

Healing wounds Whatever pruning methods are employed, cuts to the vine have to be made and this leaves wounds open to infection and susceptibility to Grapevine Trunk Diseases (GTD). GTD are a major cause of vine death and cause a reduction in vineyard productivity across most wine regions of the world. Wound sealants used in the past have lost approval for use due to potentially harmful ingredients and are now illegal. However, trials have been taking place to use


> New biological fungicide approved for pruning wounds

natural fungal species such as Trichoderma, to colonise the wound and inhibit the growth of the pathogenic species that are among the causes of GTDs. On 20 November 2020 a new product, Vintec, received full regulatory approval and is now available in the UK for use on vines. It is a biological fungicide containing Trichoderma atroviride (strain SC1). The manufacturer, Belchim Crop Protection, claim that once applied there is no harmful residue and a favourable beneficial and environmental profile. “It is the only Trichoderma species derived from a woody species (hazelnut in Northern Italy) so ideally suited for rapid colonisation within the vines. It is supplied as a natural endophyte which establishes well within the vines, whereas other Trichoderma are derived from soil colonies,” explained Alan Horgan, Horticultural Specialist with Belchim Crop Protection. “Vintec should be applied at an optimum temperature of 10°C and ideally there should be no frost or rain for 48 hours following application. Vintec offers long season protection with only one or two applications required per year, initially after pruning then a second application, if required, up to flowering. Felco has a specially adapted manual secateur model which can apply pruning

wound dressings, such as the new Vintec one, on the go. "Grape Trunk Diseases are a recognised problem but the availability and suitability of products for treating GTDs effectively has been sporadic and something of a stop-gap, up until now. In Vintec we have a well-researched, fully approved product with known efficacy, and which is also accommodating to our regular pruning practice. A true bio-fungicide (with ‘seek and destroy’ capability) specific to the pathogen, friendly for both the user and the environment,” commented Julian Searle, Viticulture Advisor, Agrii. “Grape trunk diseases make vineyards unproductive (ultimately killing vines) and losses of 4% per year can soon add up. This isn’t a panacea for all GTDs but a management tool to keep productivity up. Increasing the vines life span increases vineyard sustainability. There has been no approved product to deal with wound protection in the UK for over a decade so the arrival of Vintec is definitely overdue. A number of overseas nurseries that I work with are taking up the product in the grafting process as they feel it enhances control of asymptomatic GTDs,” added Chris Cooper, Viticulture Advisor, Hutchinsons.

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Are you ready for

winter prunin @

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JA N UA R Y 2021 | V I N E YA R D



Bringing pruning into the 21st century Based just outside Goudhurst, Kent, NP Seymour’s family-run, friendly team has been supplying quality tractor and machinery brands, exemplary service and engineering know-how to vineyards and wineries of all sizes across the UK since the 1980s. With the winter pruning season now upon us, the team at leading specialist tractor and machinery suppliers NP Seymour, were invited last month to participate in a virtual dealer meeting and product training session with Felco. As the UK’s official sales and service centre for the electronic and pneumatic secateurs manufacture, NP Seymour has been providing fruit growers and viticulturalists with Felco’s wide range of secateurs, holsters, saws and diamond coated sharpeners for nearly a decade. “Felco are renowned for its secateurs; they’re a premium brand and widely used across the UK by viticulturists already,” said Claire Seymour, partner of NP Seymour, Felco’s UK agent.

While Felco only released its new generation of professional electric pruning shears, the Power Blade series last year, the Swiss manufacture has spent the last few months upgrading the range even further.

So, what’s new? Well, for a start, the blades are better. Made from a special high speed steel, the XPro blades which now feature on the Power Blade pruning shears have been put through an additional hardening process to provide consistent pruning, cleaner cuts, and a longer blade life compared to conventional steel. The blade, which also requires less sharpening, has been tested against competitors and came out by far the strongest option on the market. Favoured by everyone from vineyard owners, to self-employed pruners, contractors and vineyard staff, the Felco Power Blade XPro range is made up of four different models of electric pruning secateurs including: the 802 and left-handed version 802G, capable of cutting up to 30mm; the 812 for pruning up to 35mm; and the heavy-duty

822 designed for making large, powerful cuts of up to 45mm.

Bluetooth connectivity Those out in the vineyard will be able to take advantage of the a new carrying system too, as all models come with a Power Pack 882. Bringing pruning into the 21st century, the Power Blades have also been fitted with Bluetooth connectivity enabling the shears to talk to the operator’s smartphone or tablet. After installing the new Felco app, operators can adjust the semi-opening and activate holster mode. There is also a ‘dashboard’ which shows tool performance data such as the number of cuts, battery life, time of usage and cut size statistics. “It even tells you when your next service is required, the working condition of your tool, and whether it’s still in warranty,” said Claire. “As the area of vines in the country continues to increase at a rapid pace, the Felco electronic secateurs are proving to be increasingly popular. With more pruning to be done, many pruners have already discovered the benefits of switching over to electronic secateurs and these new models further help pruners to speed up the job and cover more vines in a day.”

Clearing the rows


With pruning, comes prunings. While some growers opt to burn the old wood, for those looking to be more environmentally friendly and sustainable too, mulching prunings is a great way to add humus to the soil, improving its condition. Capable of cutting vineyard prunings up to 10cm diameter, the BG2 pulverisers from Perfect van Wamel have found favour with growers for being compact, with a low profile of just 51cm, and heavy-duty. “To maximise the cutting width, the flail rotor bearings are mounted inside the frame and there is a full-width rear roller which provides excellent stability and easy handling,” said Claire. “There is also the Perfect BK2, which is the same as the BG2 but comes with additional rear rake tines to carry the prunings and improve mulching.”

JA N UA R Y 2021 | V I N E YA R D

Rob S

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Agronomy diary


Is it time for a gentler approach to pruning? With winter pruning in full swing, Hutchinsons’ Rob Saunders examines why the “gentle pruning” concept is gaining attention and how it could be of benefit. The four key principles of gentle pruning promoted by Marco Simonit have been around for several years and are increasingly finding favour among growers in many key wine growing regions, including the UK. The concept centres around the objective of protecting natural sap flow within the vine’s vascular system, through a more sympathetic pruning regime that also minimises the risks of trunk disease infection. Essentially it requires growers to focus more on how the “plumbing” inside the vine is affected by pruning interventions on the outside. Interest in the system has been partly spurred by a growing awareness that trunk diseases are a potential limit to production, and disruption to vascular tissue and sap flow after pruning may sometimes contribute to otherwise inexplicable vine-to-vine variability. Furthermore, in the UK there is a fairly limited toolbox for controlling trunk diseases, so there is some sound logic behind the gentle pruning principles, which can be applied to all training systems. The concept is broadly divided into the four key areas described here.

1. Branching

Aim to develop a crown and branch structure that respects the vine’s natural growth habit, rather than making pruning decisions focussed wholly on selecting canes based on inter-nodal distances and diameter, but giving additional consideration to the position from which the cane grows.

2. Respecting vascular flow

This goes hand-in-hand with point one and requires growers to try and maintain good vascular flow around plants when making pruning decisions. Crucially, it recognises that behind any cut, an area of die-back forms inside the crown called a “desiccation cone”, which can interrupt the natural route of the vascular system. Desiccation cones formed behind cuts on the top and bottom of stems, for example, could eventually create a tortuous, serpentine vascular system with a reduced capacity to feed the rest of the plant.

3. Cuts and crowns Growers are encouraged to develop the crown and make only small cuts that are able to heal rapidly. Avoid cutting into wood that is more than two years old, as these larger cuts are slower to callus when growth resumes in the spring, presenting a greater risk of infection, especially if large cuts had to be made earlier in the winter.

4. Protective wood While it is often tempting to make cuts close to a bud, this final principle advocates leaving a small stub of 12-25mm when cutting two-year-old wood to protect the crown and preserve sap flow. It means the desiccation cone of dead material that forms after cutting will be in the stub (also called a “snag”) and not close to the bud, which could potentially compromise its viability.

A word on timing Theoretically, the best time to do any pruning is just before bud break in spring, when rising sap effectively “washes” the cut before it calluses quickly. But as any commercial grower knows, this is simply not possible for larger vineyards where pruning has to begin much earlier - usually in early winter - to ensure larger areas can be completed in time. Any steps we can take to reduce the risks of infection with less reliance on applying paints or other treatments is worth considering, and may well bring time or cost savings in the future. So if there are areas of the vineyard still to prune, it is worth trying out some of the gentle pruning principles this season, even if it is only a small trial area to see how it works in your situation. Any major changes to pruning regimes will inevitably take time to get right and to implement, and extra management may be required to ensure any seasonal hired staff are clear about what is required.

 paper-plane  01945 461177 JA N UA R Y 2021 | V I N E YA R D



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Filtration and stabilisation The next steps before considering bottling operations. As vineyard pruning and wine maturation take hold during these cold and dark months, preparing your wine for filtration and stabilisation is the next steps before considering bottling operations. Laffort have developed a very exciting and ground-breaking product called FLOWPURE® that is the first processing aid specifically approved for the adsorption of pesticide residues in wine. Not all wine is affected or necessarily needs FLOWPURE® but for those vineyards that have potentially seen heavy spraying FLOWPURE® can assist in reducing these various fungicide and pesticides as well as importantly ochratoxin A.

Specifications FLOWPURE® is a processing aid based on purified and micronised plant fibres, it is insoluble in both water and wine. FLOWPURE's® structure

of the fibre makes it possible to reduce the number and the level of undesirable substances present in wine. It is simple to implement, FLOWPURE® is used in a precoat filtration. It is sourced from micronised and gluten-free plant fibre from organic farming, and is made up of the biochemical constituents of the plant cell wall: hemicellulose, cellulose, lignin, proteins and lipids. It has full validation according to the OIV as well as EU approval. FLOWPURE® has also been extensively tested on various wines and has minimal impact on the wine colour or aroma, see charts below.

1. Apply the first layer of white Kieselguhr 500 to 700 g/m2 . 2. Apply FLOWPURE®. The dose is determined in accordance to the filterable volume and must not exceed a dose of 1.5 kg/m² of the filtering surface. 3. Above FLOWPURE® apply the final layer of Kieselguhr 500 to 700 g/m2 with a minimum permeability of that of FLOWPURE® (to avoid fouling). 4. Rinse the precoat. 5. Filter the wine under the classical precoat filtration conditions.

Protocol for use implementation

STORAGE RECOMMENDATION Store: clean and dry conditions Optimal date of use: two years unopened package.

FLOWPURE® is used on wines prepared for filtration to limit the risk of fouling. During a precoat filtration:

Little or no impact on wine colour Vine Blanc

1 0.8 0.6 0.4 0.2 0 Bordeaux rouge Témoin

Indice des Polyphénols Totaux



Flowpure – 200 g/hL


70 60 50 40 30 20 10 0

0.12 0.1 0.8 0.6 0.4 0.2 0


Flowpure –100 g/hL D0420

Bordeaux rouge Témoin


Flowpure – 100 g/hL

Intensité colorante Modifiée

Intensité colorante Modifiée

Red wine

Flowpure – 100 g/hL

Flowpure – 200 g/hL


LAB coordinates


FLOWPURE® 100 g/hL

FLOWPURE® 200 g/hL













Chromatic difference E




  07805 081677 paper-plane JA N UA R Y 2021 | V I N E YA R D

Flowpure –200 g/hL



Active ingredients ®

Diseases treated


Botrytis / Powdery mildew


Downy mildew


Downy mildew


Downy mildew

Eliminating pesticides What is FLOWPURE ? ®



Reductio an

Fenhexamide Botrytis IS FLOWPURE®? ◆ FLOWPURE® is the only solution on the WHAT market Iprodione Botrytis Highly favourable elimination • FLOWPURE® is the only solution on the market specifically dedicated to the specifically dedicated to the elimination of 50 % < elimination < 100 % of pesticide residues in wine, validated by the OIV. Pyrimethanil Botrytis pesticide residues in wine, validated by theelimination OIV. ® ® ◆ FLOWPURE is fully in line with the LAFFORT Tebuconazole Powdery • FLOWPURE® is fully in line with the LAFFORT® vision for the development ofmildew vision for the development of precision precision oenological solutions from nature. Cyprodinyl Botrytis oenological solutions from nature. • A micronised and gluten-free plant fibre from organic farming, produced according to ◆ A micronised and gluten-free plant fibre from Imidacloprid (Spanish market) Insecticide an environmentally friendly process. organic farming, produced according to an Fenpropidin (Swiss market) Powdery mildew environmentally friendly process. • FLOWPURE® is made up of the biochemical constituents of the plant cell wall: Glyphosate + AMPA* Herbicide ◆ FLOWPURE® is made up of the biochemicalhemicellulose, cellulose, lignin, proteins and lipids. constituents of the plant cell wall: Favourable elimination Carbendazim (+ Bénomyl) Botrytis hemicellulose, cellulose, lignin, proteins and 25 % < elimination < 50 % lipids.

The FLOWP a succession in water, th specific ad reduce the co

Pesticide present i


FLOWPURE® IN PRACTICE. > Table 1: Table summarising the effectiveness of FLOWPURE® for the elimination of

is employed during wine filtration. active ingredients in crop protection products used for spraying vines. Compilation of Flowpure in practiceEasy to use, FLOWPURE® ®

Effective in reducing the concentration many fungicides. more than 150 tests carriedofout on wines containing pesticide residues, from different

Easy to use, FLOWPURE® is employed during wine filtration and is effective in reducing the concentration of many fungicides. AWAR RDS 2017



world vineyards, treated with FLOWPURE® during filtration at a dose of 2 g/L (2000 ppm). * to be confirmed Table 1 Tabl CATEGORIES ACTIVE INGREDIENTS DISEASES TREATED

Boscalid The FLOWPURE® fibre is activated by a succession of mechanical treatments in water, then micronised, giving it Diméthomorph



selective vegetal fiber


Downy mildew

Totally eliminated Downy mildew Partially eliminated Botrytis

Little or no impact on aroma

The FLOWPURE® fibre is activated by Highly favourable Iprodione a succession of mechanical treatments elimination in water, then micronised, giving it Pyrimethanil 50 % < elimination < 100 % specific adsorption properties to 0.7 measurement doses of reduce theThiol concentration of: in a typical Sauvignon from Gers treated with differentTebuconazole





Residues detected



Totally eliminated 10.2


Partially eliminated


Not eliminated



Fenpropidin (Swiss market) 0.5 Glyphosate + AMPA*

Table 1 Table summarising the effectiveness of FLOWPURE® for the elimination of active 10 ingredients in crop protection products used for spraying vines. Compilation of more than 150 tests carried out on wines containing 10.7 5 pesticide residues, from different world vineyards, treated with FLOWPURE® during filtration at a dose of 2 g/L (2000 ppm). * to be confirmed



0 Témoin



Flowpure – 100 g/hL

Quantifiable residues (mg/kg) 3MH A3MH

Elimination of quantifiable residues (%)











Folpet (+ Phthalimide) Botrytis

Iprovalicarb Important



m Not effective


Dimethomorph (sum of its isomers)



Flowpure –200 g/hL

Fenhexamid Metalaxyl (including Metalaxyl-M)



Example of a wine treated with FLOWPURE® (200 g/hL - 2000 ppm) illustrating the product’s ability to reduce the number and Powdery mildew concentration of pesticides. Important matrix effect.Herbicide Not effective on copper and iron

Carbendazim (+ Bénomyl)

25 % < elimination < 50 %


Elimination of quantifiable Botrytis residues (%)

0.6 Concentration in active ingredients (mg/kg)



favourable elimination


Powdery mildew

Imidacloprid (Spanish market)



residues (mg/kg)

* to be confir


Quantifiable Botrytis




Not eliminated Botrytis -


Concentration in active ingredients (mg/kg)

Ochratoxin A.


ResiduesDowny mildew 7 detected


Pesticide residues that may be present in wines.

of FLOWPUR ingredients in FLOWPURE® for spraying v 150 tests ca 4 pesticide re vineyards, tre 3 filtration at a

Botrytis / Powdery mildew

specific adsorption properties to reduce the concentration of: Ametoctradin  Pesticide residues that may be present in wines. Mandipropamid  Ochratoxin A

Reduction in levels of pesticide residues and Ochratoxin A in wines.

Indices Aromatiques



Quantification limit

0.01 mg/kg

Detection limit

0.005 mg/kg

0.5 0.4 0.3




Folpe Quantific



Dime Detect

0.1 0

Fenhexa Folpet ( Iprovalic Dimetho Pyrimet Metalax Imidaclo

Pyrim Meta Imida



Example of a wine treated with FLOWPURE®(200 J A Ng/hL U A- 2000 R Y ppm) 2 0illustrating 21 | V I N E YA R D the product’s ability to reduce the number and concentration of pesticides.



Around the world Bordeaux’s new varieties given final approval to plant

In a bid to adapt viticulture to climate change, the French national institute of appellations and origin (INAO), has granted final approval for Bordeaux and Bordeaux Supérieur growers, to plant six of the seven varieties for which they had requested trials, and planting can start in a few months’ time. The permitted varieties are Alvarinho and Liliorila for the whites, and Arinarnoa, Castets, Marselan and Touriga nacional for the reds. However, Petit manseng will not be allowed. Potentially useful characteristics among the new grapes include naturally high acidity, late bud-break to avoid spring frost, late-ripening and good resistance to vine diseases such as grey rot and downy mildew. Vitisphere reports that Florian Reyne, chief operating officer at the producers’ organisation, explained during the Vinitech trade fair, on 2 December, “we reached a decision about our list at our AGM in June 2019, on the basis of trials conducted over the last 10 years by Inrae and ISVV,

on the experimental ‘VitAdapt’ vineyard planted with 2,600 vines spanning 52 varieties from Languedoc, Spain, Italy, Greece, Portugal, Bulgaria and Georgia.” Growers will have to adhere to certain restrictions, for example the acreage of the new varieties is not allowed to exceed 5% of the farm's land area, the varieties can only account for up to 10% of the final blend for the relevant colour, and no reference can be made to the varieties on the labelling. According to, Arinarnoa, is a cross between Tannat and Cabernet Sauvignon, Castets is a long-forgotten Bordeaux grape variety, Marselan is a cross between Cabernet Sauvignon and Grenache and Touriga nacional, is well known in Portugal, as a late-ripening variety and less at risk from spring frost. The two white varieties are Alvarinho which is also well-known in Portugal, and Liliorila, which is a cross between Baroque and Chardonnay. Both these white varieties are able to preserve their aromatic characters, even in warm weather.

ProWein Düsseldorf postponed to March 2022 due to Covid-19 One of the world’s leading wine trade shows, planned for 19 to 23 March 2021, will not now take place, on account of the Covid-19 pandemic, until 27 to 29 March 2022, the organisers have announced. “We have not taken this decision lightly – instead we have very carefully weighed the arguments for and against a trade fair during these dynamic pandemic times in close and in-depth consultation with our partners and exhibitors. The decisive factor for us was our exhibitors’ and visitors’ interests,” explained Erhard Wienkamp, Managing


JA N UA R Y 2021 | V I N E YA R D

Director at Messe Düsseldorf GmbH. This was also influenced by the recent decision of Germany’s federal and state governments to limit trade fairs for the unforeseeable future. Exhibitors can now focus on the next ProWein dates and gear their preparations to them,” he added. In contrast, ProWine China, which has just drawn to such an exceedingly successful close in November, will be renamed ProWine Shanghai next year, and will return to the Shanghai New International Expo Center from 9 to 11 November 2021.


How the right pump can give you control over your wine transfer Time is precious, and your product even more so. With many processes there is often a trade-off between these two expensive commodities. So, imagine a pump that can handle your wine with the care and attention it needs, whilst also allowing your winemakers to spend less of their valuable time operating it. That’s exactly what Defined Wine have been able to achieve with their new “All in One” pump specified by Castle Pumps. When contract winemaker Defined Wine contacted Castle Pumps for a pump for their winery, Assistant Winemaker Poppy highlighted the importance of a trolley for moving it around the cellar, a variable speed drive to control how quickly wine is transferred and reverse operation as whilst it was primarily to fill barrels, they also carry out tank to tank transfer. A solution that is more than a means to an end! Castle Pumps knew immediately that this was a job for their flexible impeller range. Their low shear operation and smooth pumping is ideal for accurate barrel filling without altering the consistency of the wine, and they can also handle any sediment at the bottom of a tank without damage. The pump could have been supplied exactly as requested but Castle Pumps

knew that they could offer a solution that would give Defined Wine more control over their operations, rather than just efficiently carry them out. Consequently, the Liverani “All in One” was specified, which comes with: ◆ Touchscreen panel to schedule, monitor and review operations ◆ Barrel filling programme to preset multiple dispenses ◆ Remote control operation to allow winemakers to spend less time at the pump ◆ Inbuilt food grade flow meter to accurately measure transfer ◆ Ability to record and export operations with a batch number and wine name. After a couple of months of use, Poppy at Defined Wine fed back how happy they were with their new solution; “The Liverani pump has been a great addition to our cellar here at Defined. It's a fast, reliable and versatile pump.”

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Cutting the cost of pruning Pruning and then pulling out the canes can be a long and costly job and most vineyards are now looking at their forward budgets under a microscope as labour costs and availability are challenging to say the least. Pulling out takes about as much time as pruning and these days both tasks can be greatly assisted mechanically. Most people know the benefits of using battery powered secateurs but are not so sure about cane removing kit. There are two types of machine on the market and Vitifruit Equipment have been using both around the country to show them at work on demonstration and hire. They use the Provitis system as it's not only well designed and a good performer, but it only needs one mast onto which a number of tools can be attached thus saving unnecessary expenditure. The VSE 430 Cane Puller is used after pruning and pulls out the whole cane so little or no hand work is required whereas the Pre-Pruner MP 122 is used before pruning with minimal pulling out which is done later in one simple movement with the left hand grasping the cane whilst the right hand is cutting. The Pre-Pruner has attracted attention this year as it's a simpler looking machine and requires no forethought regarding the previous seasons tying down method as the alternative Cane Puller prefers no cane twisting around the fruiting wire. So the Pre Pruner cuts the upper branches into 90mm sections thanks to the overlapping disc system. The number of discs employed depends on how far down the canopy you want to cut. For a typical VSP you cut from the top down past the top wire and to the second wire thus removing the tendrils but leaving enough buds on the fruiting cane below or if Spur pruning you use more discs and cut down to the level desired. David Sayell of Vitifruit Equipment worked closely with Tony Purdie of Yotes Court Vineyard in early December who wished to test the machine so after an initial demonstration the machine was kept on hire for five days. A comfortable forward speed of 5.4 kph was found to be best in their 2.0m wide rows with around 4,500 vines pruned per hour. The machine works remarkably well even if the wires are slack and if Gripples or ties are present. Tony also had the advantage of already having a Provitis mast and controls for his bud rubber so the hire costs per hectare were minimal. Vitifruit Equipment also have the complete Provitis package available and encourage first time users to have a quick free trial to see how it works for them prior to hire or purchase.

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