Lessons in Viticulture

On Friday, the Graham’s Lodge team visited our research viticulturalist, Miles Edlmann, at the Warre’s flagship property, Quinta da Cavadinha, in the Pinhão valley.  The first thing we learned as we stepped off our bus was that he had just finished fertilisations.  It seems the lay-by where the bus parked had been used as a holding spot for an immense load of well-rotted manure which had just been spread.

Miles Edlmann explaining the traditional Douro vinhas velhas

We moved quickly on, and into a vinha velha, where Miles explained that this was an example of the type of mixed-variety vineyard that had been traditional in the Douro right up until just  20 or 30 years ago, when winemakers began to re-plant in the single-varietal blocks which had long been typical in other wine regions.  He briefly explained both traditional and modern methods of planting, grafting, vine training and vineyard layout, as well as talking about the schist soil.

From the vinha velha we returned to the bus, which took us up to a beautiful small village nearby, Provesende.  From there we walked to a vineyard acquired by Paul last summer (see previous blog posting about this property) which is at about 500 metres.  The original vineyard was in such poor condition the only choice was to grub it up, posts, vines and all, and start over again.  We looked out over what appeared to be nothing but a barren mass of broken schist, until Miles drew our attention to the vines.  Sure enough, at our feet were bench-grafted vines showing just an inch or two above soil level, some already sprouting leaves.  Without posts and wires (which will be erected later), we didn’t recognise that this was already a planted vineyard!

Miles explaining our cover crop regime, which is the result of considerable research on his part

From there we walked down the hill through two more Symington vineyards, Miles stopping to point out particularly good examples of our viticultural methods, including a vineyard of meticulously trained young vines, and a vertically planted vineyard where he paused to explain our cover crop regime and all the benefits it brings to our vineyards.

The Lodge team were fascinated by the vineyards and viticulture, asking questions all along the way, as we walked through the vineyards, during the bus ride and over lunch.  In fact the discussion really only ended when Isabel said, that’s enough! and shepherded us onto the bus again to return to Gaia.

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