NILA

VINEYARD WORK

A well-cared for vineyard produces quality wines and the way vineyards are grown has a direct effect upon the yield of the vine and the characteristics of the grape. Viticulture in Jerez has historically been characterized by its quest for quality.

Intensive work is carried out on our vines each year, together with other auxiliary tasks which are completed with great care whilst showing full respect for the traditional practices of the region.

WINTER PRUNING

Pruning takes place during the winter months, a period during which the vine is dormant and no movement of sap exists within the plant. The lower the temperature, the longer the vine remains dormant. On the other hand, if temperatures are high we are faced with the problem of there being hardly any period of dormancy. Prior to pruning, at the beginning of December, all the pre-pruning work takes place to ensure that certain elements, mainly vine shoots, are removed mechanically with the aim of facilitating the manual pruning that will begin during the first two weeks of December and finish towards the end of January, thus coinciding with the dormant period of the vine.

A vine is a semi-woody plant that, when growing wild, trails and climbs along any obstacles it comes across. Growth is therefore regulated by pruning, ensuring the correct development of the vines. By pruning we give form to the vines, removing those parts of the vine that are superfluous, thus achieving the desired balance between grape yield and vegetative development. This equilibrium is essential if we are to obtain mature grapes of optimum quality.

Different techniques are used when pruning vines, basically depending upon the interests of the viticulturist at the time of managing the vineyard. Factors such as grape variety, climate, soil density or rootstock all have a major role to play in deciding on the most suitable pruning technique to be applied. The pruning techniques most commonly used in the Jerez vineyards are those called Jerez Vara y Pulgar Pruning and Cordon de Royat Pruning, either unilateral or bilateral.

The Jerez Vara y Pulgar pruning system involves cutting back a vine to leave a trunk of approximately 50 centimetres in height upon which two branches are left. Alternatively, every two years, one branch, the vara, is left with eight or ten spurs on it whilst the other, the pulgar, is left with only one or two. The pulgar produces spurs that will provide the vara for the following year, whilst the vara produces the grape harvest of the current year. A spur is preserved at the base of the vara and this gives us the pulgar for the following year. That is to say, each branch will provide a vara one year and a pulgar the next, alternating between the two. Cordon de Royat pruning, however, is currently the most widely used system in the Jerez Region, not only due to the scarcity of pruners expert in the traditional pruning technique of Vara y Pugar, but also to the fact that pruning in a cordon facilitates the mechanization of the vineyard as the spurs are all at a similar height along the cordon.

The Jerez Vara y Pulgar pruning system involves cutting back a vine to leave a trunk of approximately 50 centimetres in height upon which two branches are left. Alternatively, every two years, one branch, the vara, is left with eight or ten spurs on it whilst the other, the pulgar, is left with only one or two. The pulgar produces spurs that will provide the vara for the following year, whilst the vara produces the grape harvest of the current year. A spur is preserved at the base of the vara and this gives us the pulgar for the following year. That is to say, each branch will provide a vara one year and a pulgar the next, alternating between the two. Cordon de Royat pruning, however, is currently the most widely used system in the Jerez Region, not only due to the scarcity of pruners expert in the traditional pruning technique of Vara y Pugar, but also to the fact that pruning in a cordon facilitates the mechanization of the vineyard as the spurs are all at a similar height along the cordon.

The cordon is a pruning system that facilitates the maturing of the grape in a more uniform manner. This system, in which the vine is also cut back to around 50 centimeters in height, may be used with unilateral or bilateral cordons.

The unilateral cordon system consists in leaving one single branch with about five spurs of two shoots each. When using a bilateral pruning system two branches are left with three spurs in each and two shoots on each spur.

With the Cordon de Royat system the spurs are renewed each year by using the lowest vine shoots on the spur from the previous year. Once pruning has been completed the vine shoots are usually burnt on the vineyard after having obtained the necessary permission from the environmental agency, or crushed and spread over the vineyard to form part of its organic material. In 2020 Williams & Humbert will begin to outsource the removal of these vine shoots to companies that will turn them into biomass. When spring arrives, other vineyard tasks, known as castra or green pruning, supplement winter pruning with the aim of removing all the excess shoots on the vine that could hinder its correct development.

With the Cordon de Royat system the spurs are renewed each year by using the lowest vine shoots on the spur from the previous year. Once pruning has been completed the vine shoots are usually burnt on the vineyard after having obtained the necessary permission from the environmental agency, or crushed and spread over the vineyard to form part of its organic material. In 2020 Williams & Humbert will begin to outsource the removal of these vine shoots to companies that will turn them into biomass. When spring arrives, other vineyard tasks, known as castra or green pruning, supplement winter pruning with the aim of removing all the excess shoots on the vine that could hinder its correct development.

DE-BUDDING

After the pruning that takes place in December and January, and once the vine has started to sprout, April sees the beginning of castra (de-budding or green pruning) also known in other regions as despampanado or espergurado.

The task of de-budding consists, on the one hand, of correcting possible pruning errors and, above all, of removing unnecessary shoots which may compete with others that are required for the well-balanced development of the vineyard.

If climatic conditions are favourable, if the soil has sufficient humidity and there are high temperatures during the spring, a great many buds begin to sprout where the vegetative capacity of the vineyard is concentrated. These shoots appear all along the productive part of the vine, even the trunk, even in the trunk and rootstock at the base of the vine, known as mamones or chupones. Many of these shoots are harmful and must be removed as rapidly as possible so that the cuts produced heal well and quickly, whilst at the same time the removal of the lower vine shoots reduces contagion of fungus that could be transmitted to the rest of the vine.

The removal of these shoots facilitates the access of those remaining to essential nutritional benefits, as well as permitting those buds necessary for optimum formation to sprout, thus balancing the quantity and availability of foliar matter.

In short, this task enhances the microclimatic conditions of the plants as well as achieving the required yield for each vineyard variety.

The removal of these shoots facilitates the access of those remaining to essential nutritional benefits, as well as permitting those buds necessary for optimum formation to sprout, thus balancing the quantity and availability of foliar matter.

In short, this task enhances the microclimatic conditions of the plants as well as achieving the required yield for each vineyard variety.

In the case of hailstones or late frost, de-budding is essential to aid the correct formation of the vine, both for what remains of the current campaign and for the following campaign.

In the traditional Jerez system of Vara y Pulgar it is essential to carry out de- budding. The formation of the Jerez vine consists of two arms, on which are left on alternate years a vara of seven or nine buds and a pulgar of one just or two that will provide the shoots for the vara of the following year, this pulgar must be de-budded to leave unhindered the shoots that will provide the vara. In this way they will grow clean and robust and will be protected with other traditional Jerez vineyard tasks: the tying of pulgares or palos.

"When spring arrives, this Pruning is supplemented by other green operations, known as de-budding and green pruning, which finally eliminate all that is superfluous on the vine and could hinder its proper development."
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