The work of the vineyard
When you open a bottle of champagne, you probably don’t think about all the work that goes into it. We’re talking about the work in the vineyard which is rarely well-known. It is not limited to the grape harvest but what does it consist of exactly? Sparkling Tour explains this without further ado in the following lines.
All year long care
As you can imagine, the vines require attention throughout the year, and it varies according to seasons and months. Discover the various stages of work at the vineyard.
December marks the beginning of the pruning period, which continues until March. This technique has an impact on the quality of fruits, as well as their quantity. Pruning consists of selecting the branches to be kept according to their appearance, the growth prospects, the balance of the vine and even according to the desired yield.
For champagne, there are 4 types of pruning: Chablis, Cordon, Guyot, and Vallée de la Marne. Each pruning has its own specificities that will impact the vine in a different way. Certain grape varieties prefer one pruning type rather than another.
The winegrower must therefore take all these parameters into account to reach the right balance of vigor and fertility.
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March and spring correspond to the resumption of the vegetative cycle. Pruning must then stop to make way for the first plowing. This consists of removing the soil from the roots of the vines and plowing the ridges. In other words, the soil around and between the vines is gathered in the middle of the aisle.
During the month of April, the winegrower proceeds to the trellising. This aims to support the branches by attaching them to rows of wire held by stakes.
Then, in May, the grower proceeds to leaf removal and bud pinching out. The former consists of removing some leaves to allow for good grape oxygenation. In a similar way, bud pinching out consists of removing the non-fruiting buds (the suckers) to ensure the good growth of the future bunches.
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At the end of June or in early July, vines are usually in bloom or soon-to-be: it is time to proceed with the trimming. This is a summer type of pruning where the objective is to control vegetation development to leave enough space for the grapes. Trimming is usually done progressively, in two to four rounds.
Then, towards the end of the summer, from the end of August or the beginning of September, the harvest can begin. It is a key moment for wine growers. The estates call upon numerous grape pickers to harvest the grapes by hand. Throughout the Champagne area, thousands of workers are recruited to perform this meticulous work. Note that each worker has a well-defined role to ensure optimal organization: picker, carrier, loader, forklift operator, etc.
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Once the harvest is over, it is time to prepare for winter, usually in November. For this, the vines are earthed up. In other words, they are covered with soil to be protected from frost.