The Vineyard at Bosue
The vines at Bosue Vineyard
The first vines were planted at Bosue Vineyard in 1996 as a trial plot, followed by more extensive plantings in 1999, 2004 and 2005. We now have over 4000 vines and these are the modern varieties of Orion, Phoenix and Solaris for the white wine and Rondo and Regent for the red and rosé wine. These cool climate varieties are well suited to English wine production because they are high yielding and disease resistant. They produce a dry white wine, full of aroma and flavour and with a low acidity, a deeply coloured dry red wine and a fresh rosé.
The vineyard is planted on a gentle south-facing slope in a shallow wooded valley of oak, willow, hazel and hawthorn and the soil is deep fertile loam. This can present us with problems in controlling the natural vigour of the vine in such a good soil and we carefully prune each year.
This is a slow job, usually in the coldest time of the year, and each vine has to be carefully assessed before any cut is made, in order to select the best canes for this years fruit.
After a slow start in April, shoot growth will be rapid this month and the tiny potential fruit clusters become clearly visible. As well as the vines, weeds and the grass also grow quickly so weed trimming and grass mowing starts. The first spray in a programme of careful foliar feeding will go on before the end of the month.
At this time of year, shoot growth is rapid and to prevent damage to the shoots and potential grape clusters, these shoots have to be carefully tucked into the parallel trellis wires.
This is probably the month when shoot growth is most rapid, and the shoots have to be carefully tucked in. This also helps fruit set during the critical flowering period when we hope for a spell of settled warm weather. If the weather turns colder and wet during flowering, the delicate flowers quickly rot and no fruit is formed: even worse, those bunches that have set can loose fruit, resulting in no fruit at all or part bunches only - commonly known as "hen and chicken".
Another growing month, but towards the end of the month as the evenings become cooler, shoot growth will slow and the vines energy should start to be directed to the swelling fruit - verasion should start. Much will depend on the variety, with some not starting verasion until September. At this time, if the vines are trimmed as they should be and the grass and weeds are under control, the vineyard should look at it's best!
Probably the most exciting and anxious month! The weather can be a brilliant indian summer which is ideal, and the cooler evenings can enhance the wine flavour, or we can be stuck in damp, misty weather. Regular checks are made on the ripening grapes for sugar levels and acidity, and with luck we can start to harvest the earliest varieties at the end of the month.
After the rush of harvest, the vineyard looks peaceful and our work is more concentrated in the winery. However, the grass can still grow in our mild climate, and warm days can bring some spectacular colours on the vines
November and December
Although there is all the pruning to do, we tend not start until after Christmas and so these months are quiet in the vineyard.
January and February
Once Christmas and New Year is over, it is time to start the pruning. By now the vines will have gone through some cold weather and last year's wood on the canes will have ripened to a light mahogany colour. Each vine is carefully looked at to choose canes for the coming season and spurs which will produce canes for the following season in a years time. Plenty of scope therefore for an error cutting the wrong cane and affecting the crop yield for two seasons!
February and March in the Vineyard
Pruning continues in these months and we are nearly full circle back to Spring. Towards the end of March, the sap in the vines can start rising, and that makes the canes less brittle and easier to tie down. The early budding varieties, especially Rondo, we will leave unpruned until as late as May to avoid frost damage on the tender buds. It doesn't always work and means that we have to spend time pruning in May when there are lot of other jobs to do in the vineyard.
In 2009 pruning was interrupted by snow, which gave some unusual photo opportunities as we rarely see this amount of snow in Cornwall.