How to renovate a "run down" vineyard - with James Hook & Derek Cameron

In 2016, we got a phone call in June and we were given a project to convert a newly-purchased vineyard from being kind of a ruin, and turned into an iconic site. So we commenced a three-year project to get this vineyard up to scratch.

The first step was we identified that the site had low natural vigor, and so trying to grow high-quality fruit over two cordons in a low-vigor site was really more than the site could handle. So, we engaged Chalk Hill Viticulture to come in with their cordon-stripping machine to take off the top cordon.

You can see from this video, also, the infrastructure was in fairly bad condition. But once we'd stripped away the top cordon, that gave us the opportunity to prune the lower cordon as best as possible. So we went through and selected decent spares. We also went through at this time and pulled out all of the broken posts and replaced them with a combination of EcoTrellis posts, which are the metal posts from New Zealand, and also with some secondhand wooden posts that we had.

Also, because we had stripped off the top cordon, it left us with stumps, so these stumps were treated with pruning wound dressing to prevent them from being infected with Eutypa dieback.

As bud burst progressed, we also installed some soil moisture monitoring sites, because we know how important it is to get irrigation correct in these kind of low vigor sites.

In November, we noted the vineyard had improved health and was Looking much more healthy. We also had water shoots coming out of the trunks that we'd pruned. We commenced using quite a lot of humic acid to build up organic matter in the soil and deal with any residue leftover salt that was inherited from previous practices.

By June 2017, you can see the vineyard has a lot better infrastructure. The trunks have produced water shoots and given us some options there. Overall, we have shoots much closer to a meter on average in shoot length, what we're looking for for high-quality red production.

It's by no means fixed in one year. There's some very important things we're going to do in the future, but overall, it's an encouraging start. The wine that was produced this year also was encouraging. It had some good depth and some good tannin, and good color, as you would expect out of a converted vineyard.

Now going forward, we're going to remove the lower cordon and now replace it with a new cordon that's about 30 or 40 centimeters higher than the old one. We call this the “Derek Cameron” method. It's a system that Derek's developed. In the future, the vineyard should like it does here.

If you've got any questions about this project and you want to see how it progresses over the next few years, please feel free to contact us, Derek or myself. I'm more than happy to explain what we're doing and give you some examples of things that you can do in your vineyard to improve its quality.


For more information please don’t hesitate to ask us how we can help you.

James HookComment