The vineyard in the evening sun, grapes in the morning dew...while enjoying a glass of wine, we have a definite image before us. As idyllic and romantic as this image may be, working at a vineyard is not. Because there’s a whole lot of work to be done before the wine reaches the glass!
For a winemaker, the year starts with trimming the vines. This is of particular importance as it has a large impact on the later yield and its quality. Dry, older wood is removed and the vine is rejuvenated. The cuttings from the vines are removed from the vineyard and burned, or made into chips using machines and eventually worked into the soil.
In March, the vineyard is brought into order by carrying out minor repairs on the trellises. For instance, rotten wooden posts are replaced, or wires are tightened or renewed. Then the vines are bound to the wires.
Budding takes place at the end of April to the beginning of May. The buds open and the green shoots poke out. Frost at night (especially late frosts) can still severely affect the shoots during this time. Superfluous shoots are removed during May, meaning that the vines are once again adjusted.
At the start of June, the grapevines begin to flower. The time that this happens allows you to roughly predict when the harvest will take place. After flowering, there is still some work to be done: the young shoots, now up to 40 cm in length, are bound onto the wiring, so that they may become affixed there and can no longer be broken off by the wind. At the end of June, after flowering, the berries are about as large as a shot grain.
Superfluous side shoots are trimmed away between the end of June and the start of July. At the start of July, the berries are already the size of a pea, and the grapes hang on the vines. When the shoots reach a length of about a metre, they are cut shorter, usually with a machine. A thick wall of leaves forms between the vines, especially between July and August.
End of July – August
Depending on the region, location, type of vine, weather conditions and maturity of the grapes, the grape harvest can begin from mid-September onwards. The grapes are then harvested according to their type, and brought to the wine press for processing. The important thing here is to only process fully ripe and healthy grapes. In most cases, the grapes are picked the traditional way by hand, as damaged or unripe grapes can be discarded straight away.