With all of the pruning now behind us, the early ripening varieties on the property are starting to show the first signs of bud burst. Shiraz, Semillon and Riesling are now pushing out the first few leaves, and the tiny inflorescences (immature grape bunches) are just visible. It is crucial at this time of year that we have sufficient moisture in the soil profile to ensure a healthy and balanced vine, and puts us in good stead leading up to the warmer months.
In the next few days, I will be spreading triticale wheat straw under vine in our Reserve Shiraz block to act as a mulch, helping to reduce water loss and also aid in suppressing weed growth. This is something that we will continue to roll out across the vineyard over the next few years, and ultimately have mulch used across the vineyard in the future.
We are now into the third year of running our Whistler vineyards organically! With the vineyard looking healthier than ever, and the fruit continuing to show signs of improvement each year; under vine weed management is the main challenge in running a vineyard organically. We have decided to use a traditional Barossa technique known as “dodging” to work the soil under vine to control weed growth. This process involves three passes, each with a different attachment on the dodger; the plough pulls the soil away from the base of the vine and causes the soil to turn over, smothering the weeds. The second pass is the disc, which turns the soil over again and causes a hill to form under vine. The third and final pass uses the knife to cut through the soil and disturb the roots of young weeds. Essentially, we are green mulching and allowing the microorganisms in the soil to breakdown the plant matter returning essential nutrients that the vines need.
Our mid rows have been left untouched for the past three years, and are starting to show a beautiful mix of native grasses, wood sorrel (sour sobs) and beautiful, lush clover which are all helping to fix nitrogen from the atmosphere and return it to the soil; an essential element for healthy grapes.
I am busy preparing one hectare of our Merlot vineyard for grafting to Shiraz later in September, with the help of Rav and our latest WWOOFer, Michael. This will allow us to grow and produce more Shiraz here on our property that will ultimately go towards the Albert Heinrich Shiraz in years to come.
Anytime you come and visit us at Whistler, please take your time to enjoy the vineyard and the surrounds. A lot of time and effort goes in to our property to ensure that we can produce the best fruit possible for our wines.