When the Beast from the East came to the Bride Valley
The snow and ice that blew in with Beast from the East at the start of the month wasn’t entirely unwelcome here on the vineyard. Very cold temperatures are actually good news for us at this time of year, as they kill off any dormant fungal spores present on the vines or in the ground.
(In fact in many vineyards around the world, it’s common practice to spray the vines with water when there’s a risk of frost, in the hope that it will form an insulating layer of ice. This protects the buds from being damaged by much lower temperatures. It’s not widely practiced in the UK, because damaging frost incidents aren’t a regular enough occurrence to warrant the investment.)
We’re now turning our attention to the soils, injecting fertiliser (both granular and liquid iron) into the vine root zone. Chalky soils like ours are low in available iron, so we have to keep an eye on levels to avoid iron chlorides. Then it will be on to subsoiling, where we lift the soil to stop compaction. We do this with a special type of plough, which has legs, that pull through the soil to turn it and help water penetrate more easily. Phew!