A pruning masterclass: cane-pruning Sauvignon in Marlborough

The Awatere: time to prune

This morning Mike Eaton kindly took me out to a vineyard he’s working with in the Awatere Valley (Marlborough, New Zealand) to give a quick pruning masterclass.

Here’s the film – it’s quite long at 14 minutes, but it goes into detail about some of the decision-making process in pruning a vineyard.

In […]

In the vineyards with Johan Reyneke talking farming and biodynamics

Johan Reyneke

Had a lovely morning with Johan Reyneke at is Stellenbosch farm. Duncan Savage and I swung by for a spot of breakfast, and we had a lengthy chat about how he farms, as well as a chance to wander the property before I had to head off to the airport.

Johan is the standard […]

Ceilings for wine quality in Bordeaux

A nice-looking gravelly terroir

I’ve spent a few days in Bordeaux, during which I’ve had a chance to speak to a few knowledgeable people and also to walk through quite a few vineyards. (And run through some, too.) Harvest is a few weeks off, so it’s interesting to see the marked differences among the various […]

Gratuitous pictures of grapes here in Russia

Cabernet Sauvignon


Some pictures of grapes ready for harvest at Fanagoria winery. The hygeinic status of the vineyards I’ve seen so far has been excellent – they’re really well maintained. Yields in some of the vineyards are on the generous side, though.


Sauvignon Blanc


Pinot Noir

Sousao is not a teinturier variety


OK, a bit of geeky viticultural stuff.

I’d always been told that Portuguese variety Sousao was a teinturier: a grape with coloured flesh. Normally red grapes have all their pigment in the skins and the flesh is transparent. With teinturier varieties, of which there are very few, the flesh is also coloured. They make incredibly […]

The remarkable viticulture of Dry River, Martinborough, New Zealand

I have just published an extended write-up of a visit to one of New Zealand’s most exciting producers: Dry River, Martinborough. Here, I want to focus on one aspect of what they do – their viticulture, which is remarkable.

The vineyards are immaculate. A split canopy system called Scott Henry is employed, with both upward and […]

Veraison, at last

Veraison – the stage in grape phenology where the berries change colour and the skins soften – is occurring at last with my Pinot Noir vines. I’ve deliberately chosen this rather ragged looking bunch to illustrate some of the challenges of growing wine grapes in the UK.

First, you can see the ‘hen and chicken’ effect […]

The Klima: a New Zealand innovation

On my recent trip to Kiwiland I saw an interesting innovation that looks set to save growers lots of money. It’s called the Klima (www.klima.co.nz): a mechanical gizmo that strips prunings from vines. Now this might not sound a big deal, but it is.

Marlborough’s 19 570 hectares of vines are almost entirely cane pruned. This […]

Flowering has started and the hats are coming off

Flowering has started on my Pinot Noir vines. You’ll see that some of the flowers have emerged; others still have their caps on. These browning caps can cause botrytis later in the season if they remain trapped in the bunch, as they can act as a focus of infection. Organic products such as Botryzen look […]

Seen on a Pinot Noir vine leaf…

…this intricate array of eggs. Not being an entomologist, I haven’t got the ability to identify them. They’re incredibly beautiful, but I removed the leaf just in case the little hatchlings eat my vines.