Wednesday, May 26, 2010

Bud over in the vineyard

It's been busy in the vineyard this week, with mowing, suckering and "bud over" of a few vines.  "Bud over" doesn't mean you've had some friends round for the day - rather we are changing some of the vines from Merlot to a Spanish white varietal.

This involves using the current root stock from the merlot, cutting off the top and then splicing in a bud from the new varietal.

It's an interesting and precise technique so thought I'd share some photos so you can see what it involves.

Here's what the vines started out looking like:

Next, using a chain saw

the horizontal parts of the vine are cut off - the cordons.

The outer part of the bark at the top of the trunk is then stripped off exposing the old bud sites:

Where there were previously buds,  the bud is removed and an incision made at that point

Next, the new bud wood is prepared.  The bud wood just looks like little sticks:

One little bud is cut off from the bud wood:

And this is then inserted into the incision area on the trunk:

This process is  then repeated on the other side of the trunk so each original trunk has two new buds.  If you just use one, it grows too fast and isn't very strong.  By adding two, not only do you get two chances of them taking, but it slows the growth so they are stronger.

Next the top of the trunk is wrapped up, so that the buds are held in place with just the very tip of the bud showing through:

And now we wait and see!  We have to make sure all suckers (leaves growing on the base of the trunk) are pulled off regularly from these vines now - as they would want to product merlot and instead let the plant use it's energy for the new white varietal.

We decided to "bud over" because a couple of wine makers approached us and asked if we'd experiment with them on this new-for-California white varietal.  We are only doing about a tenth of the vineyard to see if it works and if the terroir is good for this varietal or not.  If it works out, we'll do a little more but still have Merlot as our main grape varietal.

I'll let you know how it goes. Hope the piccies gave you some idea of the process.

Go buds!


Joy Funnell said...

Really fascinating - thanks for all the great piccies and info. As a confirmed red wine drinker though give me a nice glass of Merlot anyday! ;-)

Ruth said...

Yeah for Merlot drinkers! It's a great varietal and we'll never give it up!