SPRING : The beginning of spring is the beginning of a new growing season in the vineyards. New shoots start emerging from the dormant buds and active growth commences. Spring is a very active time in the vineyards and activities such as fertilizing, shoot thinning and preventative sprays against fungal diseases takes place during this time. Shoot thinning is an activity where unnecessary and unwanted shoots are removed by hand in order to create a canopy microclimate which will be beneficial for wine quality. In areas where vine growing without supplementary irrigation is not possible, growers will also start irrigating during the spring period.
Towards the end of October and beginning of November the vines flower and after berry set the new bunches will start to develop. Other canopy management activities towards the end of spring include shoot positioning and tipping the growing tip of shoots in order to control growing vigor.
SUMMER : During summer time the irrigation demand reaches its peak and more frequent irrigation is necessary. Growers continue with there preventative sprays against fungal diseases, normally until the beginning of January – depending on the weather conditions of that season. Berry development takes place during summer and at the end of December and beginning of January veraison occurs. Veraison is that stage in berry development where berries start to soften and the berries of red wine varieties start to colour red.
Summer time is also harvest time and picking of grapes will commence from the end of January. Different grape varieties will ripen at different stages during the summer. Chardonnay and Sauvignon blanc are examples of early ripening varieties, while Cabernet Sauvignon is a late ripening variety.
AUTUMN: Autumn sees the end of harvest, with the later ripening varieties which will be harvested during March and the beginning of April. Some of the post harvest activities that take place in our vineyards during autumn are the following: Post harvest fertilizing, post harvest disease control in high disease pressure situations and post harvest irrigation. The irrigation demand has dropped off considerably and less irrigation is necessary during this time.
WINTER: The main activity on a wine farm during winter is pruning. Pruning will commence during June and can continue up to the end of August. During pruning the vine is cut back severely and 8 to 10 two bud spurs are all from the current season’s growth which will be left on the cordon of a vine.
Planting of new vineyards will also take place at the end of winter while winter is also the time for repairs to irrigation systems, trellis systems and time for holiday.
Briaan Stipp, Viticulturist