Absolute Certainty!

In my short wine-growing career I have been amazed by the absolute certainty of opinion that winegrowers (and indeed, everyone in the industry) exhibit. They are usually very clear, even dogmatic about how things should be done. This would be fine if they agreed, but their opinions are often directly opposed to one another. “No. You must prune early for wood and late for fruit,” I was told when I asked an expert if I could prune at any time during the winter. (“pruning for wood” means that you have young vines and your priority is to “build structure” – to get the stems and cordon arms up and strong). I was a bit dismayed because I have to prune during the midyear school holidays and this means that I have to prune early – almost as soon as the last leaf drops. Well, I have perforce pruned early (with a somewhat gloomy feeling) only to discover that we have abundant fruit. When I mentioned this to another veteran, he scoffed: “Ag no man. You prune early for fruit and late for wood.”
This makes it really difficult to get advice. To ridge the soil or not, prior to trellising? To thin the leaves on the morning side of the vines or not? You will find experienced farmers and industry experts who argue cogently from opposite sides. It can be very confusing to a novice such as myself
And of course you must think of the market – what do people buy? It’s no good producing a wine that you can’t sell for a price that will make you a profit. Wine production has changed massively over the last twenty years and so have people’s tastes. Less wine is being produced but prices have gone up. This says that fewer people are drinking wine but those that are, are looking for higher quality. The vin ordinaire that was consumed in vast quantities by French and other families of modest means is no longer a part of their lifestyles. Thousands of hectares of vines have been ripped out in places like Languedoc because the estates simply could not sell their wine. At the same time, prices of premier wines have rocketed.

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