Tag Archives | viticulture

An old vine in sandy soil

Vines, a cultural heritage. On Pantelleria

Vines pruned with the traditional alberello method and half-buried in the sand on the volcanic island of Pantelleria south of Sicily, is since a little while back on the UNESCO World Heritage List. This traditional pruning system, called gobelet in French and bush vine in English, is used in a very particular way on the […]

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Spain, biggest in the world. For vineyards

Wine countries outside of Europe are steadily increasing their surface under vines but it is still a European country that can boast the largest vineyard area in the world. It has long been Spain and it is still Spain with 950,541 hectares. That is 13.6% of the total global vineyard area. The largest region is […]

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View on Pantelleria

Pantelleria. A drop in the Mediterranean

“Are we in Iraq?”, asks a fellow traveller, looking out the car window. “I think it looks like Tunisia,” says another. “Are we in the right place?”, asks number three. Yes, we are in the right place. We are on the island of Pantelleria. A drop of soil of sixteen times eight kilometres and we […]

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New organic pesticide against rot (bytritis)

UK research company Eden Research has developed an organic pesticide, called 3AEY. The product has now been approved for sale in the EU. 3AEY is made of tea tree oil and lemon juice and is said to be effective against rot. The product has so far been found to have the same protection as conventional […]

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A dead truffles fly on a pin, copyright BKWine Photography

Suzukii fly in the vineyard

A brand new insect has made its debut in the French vineyards. This we were told at one of our visits to Champagne a few weeks ago. This insect is called drosophila suzukii and is a fly coming from Japan. It was first seen in Switzerland and in the Rhone Valley, where it lays its […]

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Esca, a big problem in the French vineyards

The French wine harvest 2014 has largely given the wine producers adequate quantity and a good quality. But all is not rosy in the vineyard. There is a disease that wreaks havoc in the vineyards and it is believed that this disease now affects 12% of the French total vineyard surface. And it is growing. […]

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New rules in France for hiring harvesting workers

The harvesting machine today replaces hand harvesting in many places around the world. And harvesting machines are not only for simple wines. Small, efficient and gentle machines are also seen in densely planted vineyards where the grapes end up in prestigious wines. More and more grapes are harvested with machine. Today it is around 60%. […]

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To irrigate or not to irrigate in the vineyard?

The summer started with a lot of rain in some parts of France. But in Languedoc-Roussillon it is getting dry. During a hot summer with hardly any rain, some vineyards will have problems, especially those with young vines. It was taboo in the old days in France to talk about irrigation. But times change. Now […]

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Claude Bourguignon, vineyard consultant

The importance of long roots: We meet Claude and Lydia Bourguignon in Cahors

Claude and Lydia Bourguignon are two well-known microbiologists who work as consultants worldwide. They advise wine producers and other farmers on all aspects of the soil. They analyse the soil, measure the microbiological activity, make recommendations about rootstocks, grape varieties, plant density, cover crops, fertilizers and so on. Their home base is northern Burgundy and […]

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Spraying by helicopter, forbidden but not quite

Should spraying by helicopter or air-plane be banned? Yes, says Segolène Royale, the French Minister for ecology, sustainability and energy (as well as ex-presidential candidate and ex-partner of the current president). There is actually already an EU ban on helicopter spraying but winemakers and some other farmers in France (banana growers in Guadeloupe, for example) […]

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Big tractor equipped for spraying

Pure and healthy country air?

Well, not always. In the district of Blaye in the Bordeaux region recently an entire school class was taken to hospital after having exhibited symptoms of poisoning, which apparently were due to a wine producer spraying his vineyard nearby. The wine producer used a common and permitted product to spray against fungal diseases. But the […]

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Are old vines always better?

At what age is a vine at its best? When visiting wineries in New World countries you are sometimes surprised. The wine producers there talk about replanting a vineyard after only 20 years. It is considered old. While in France and elsewhere in Europe wine growers speak proudly of their 80-year-old plants and would not […]

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Spraying with helicopter

Copper, less dangerous than we think? Or not?

At the end of May, the EU Commission will decide whether to keep the present levels of copper permitted for organic growers or if the levels should be reduced. Currently, organic growers are allowed to use a maximum of six kilograms of copper per year and per hectare. Or more precisely, it is counted as […]

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Saved by the bell? (Or by the copper in the vineyard?)

No, more likely by copper. Many organic growers survive thanks to the permission they have to spray with copper against the severe fungal disease mildiou. This applies not least to the organic growers in Burgundy where the weather can be both cool and rainy. Currently, organic producers in Europe are allowed to use a maximum […]

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Vineyard in winter time

Mild winter may cause problems in the vineyards

The exceptionally mild winter in the Languedoc area can cause problems for the wine producers. A mild winter brings early budding, increasing the risk of damage if frost strikes later in the spring. Right now the vines have about 20 days advance compared to a normal year. It has also been dry. Unlike the vineyards […]

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Machine Harvest in Champagne, soon a reality?

In Champagne everything is harvested by hand in order not to risk that the must is coloured by the blue (red) grapes. But last year discuss begun about the possibility of introducing machine harvest in the region. The reason was that the government greatly increased employer contributions for seasonal workers. But the problem is that […]

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Burning pruned branches in winter

The golden secateurs to Lynch-Bages’ pruner

Now in winter time, maybe the wine produce can slow down a little and recuperate? Hardly. Now begins the season for la taille, the winter pruning. An extremely important task that requires special skill so you do not put a pair of secateurs in anybody’s hand. But you probably would put it in Diamentino Rato […]

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Grape growing and wine-grape varieties world-wide

If you are interested in wine, grapes and statistics, then you are in for a treat. The University of Adelaide has published a book by Kym Andersson and Nanda R Aryal called Which Winegrape Varieties are Grown Where? A Global Empirical Picture. You can buy this massive tome of 690 pages for $77 from the […]

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Mandatory spraying in the vineyard

It can be costly to refuse to spray against the grasshopper that spread the disease flavescence corée. Flavescence dorée is a bacterial disease that weakens the vine. The only thing you can do to prevent the disease from spreading is to remove the infected vines and to use insecticide against the grasshopper that spread the […]

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The root cause? Expensive French rootstocks

France has many nurseries that provide winegrowers with new vines. These nurseries are now worried that the French vines have become too expensive compared to other European countries. They keep losing market shares. Exports have declined over the past five years. France exported last year 14 million vines. At the same time 12 million were […]

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A French nitrogen ban in the vineyards?

The French Ministry of Agriculture is discussing a decision to ban nitrogen fertilisation to farmland with an inclination of more than 15 %. This is to reduce nitrate emissions into the environment. This has naturally upset winegrowers in several regions. Wine growers probably use slopes more than other farmers. Regions like Champagne, Provence, Crozes-Hermitage, Sancerre, […]

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Soil detail. Slate. The black soil.

Black soil as good as white

Schist (slate) deserves more respect. Wine growers in Anjou in the Loire Valley are a bit upset about the fact that limestone gets all the attention. So they organized La Paulee de l ‘Anjou Noir on July 29 in Coteaux du Layon to honour the schist of Anjou. The message of the day was: Anjou […]

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Southern France irrigates

Irrigation in the vineyards is no longer taboo in France, nor is it prohibited. (It is curious how often one still hear people saying that irrigation in France, or even in Europe, is not permitted. How wrong they are!)  In Languedoc several projects are under-way which aims to expand the irrigated area. The goal is […]

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More expensive to hire seasonal workers in France

Starting this year, the government in France has annulled some of the exceptions to the social security contributions for seasonal workers that the agricultural employers have previously enjoyed. In other words, it is now more expensive to bring in temporary labour for harvesting, pruning and other work in the vineyards or in the cellar. The […]

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