by Graham Fisher, Vineyard Manager
Right now the vineyard at Bride Valley Wines is bursting with colour. The vines themselves have begun to flower – an event that usually coincides with the start of Wimbledon, although there is no such thing as a normal year when it comes to growing grapes in the UK. The flowers are very tiny with very little scent, you have to get right up inside the foliage to see them. Grape vines are hermaphrodites with both stamens and pistils in the same flower so they can self-pollinate and don’t need to attract insects to help them.
Insects, however, can be very helpful when it comes to pest control. The pests we need to keep an eye out for are light brown apple moth and European grape berry moth. Although the moths themselves don’t harm the vines, their caterpillars can by feeding on the emerging flowers or later in the season the grapes themselves, which when damaged can cause a site of infection for botrytis and mildews, leading to bunch rot.
We plant huge strips of nectar rich flowers such as yarrow, corn flower, phacelia and oxeye daisy along the sides of each grape vine block to provide a food source for hover flies, lacewings and parasitic wasps. These beneficial insects will eventually feed on the caterpillars providing a natural and preferable method of control than pesticides.
Bride Valley Vineyard is now open for tours and tastings on a weekly basis so if you’d like to experience the beauty, the butterflies and the bumble bees for yourself then please book a tour – you will of course also get to taste the bubbly after. We’d love to see you. Email: firstname.lastname@example.org or phone 01308 482767. £12.50 per person.