This workday was set up to help put up part of the trellising system for the vineyard. People may not necessarily think of grape vines as climbing plants but they have evolved to grow up trees to capture the most sunlight without having to grow thick trunks. So in the vineyard we are building a trellis that allows them to follow their vigorous inclination to clamber.
There are many different trellis styles that have developed over the centuries in response to local geography, climate, grape variety and management techniques. At Limeburn Hill Vineyard, we are experimenting with the Geneva Double Curtain (GDC) which was developed in the 1960s by Professor Nelson Shaulis at the Agricultural Research Station in Geneva, New York. Having seen it in use at a couple of UK vineyards, including Ancre Hill Estates and Lovells vineyard, we think its higher frame will suit our location and the English climate.
Using GDC, the vine trunk is grown up to about 1.5m high and then split into two arms which grow perpendicular to the vine rows and form the permanent heads (see drawing below). Each head then produces two canes, each with 7 spurs which will produce the grapes.
As we see it, the main advantages are that the height of the trellis reduces the risk of ground frost early in the season, while the space between and beneath the canes allows air to circulate which reduces the risk of fungal disease. The grapes will also be exposed to more sunlight and – thinking of our backs – they should be at an optimum picking height.
Once again family and friends (including three generations of one family) supported us by spending a day bolting our own design of timber cross piece on to hundreds of metal posts. Our heartfelt thanks to everyone involved – it was a joy to spend a day with such lovely people. And we couldn’t have done it without you … Susie, Charley, Simon, Alex, Matt, Jane, Kelly, Jon, Jonnie, Lynn, Bryony, James, Tom and John.