The Vineyard

Variety: Vermentino

Clone: I – CAP VS 12

Rootstock 2 Rootstocks used: Paulsen 1103 & USVIT8-7

Irrigation: Drip

Description of grapes:
Big round amber coloured berries

Description of leaves:
5 Prominent lobes with deep triangular teeth, narrow petiolar sinus, yellow green in colour.

Description of bunches:
Big loose bunches, weighing at approximately at 250-350g

Just like human beings, it also takes vines a while before adapting to new surroundings.  There is always the risk of rejection. Looking back at the success of the Vermentinos growth and development in the Voor Paardeberg area, we were happy to find that instead of rejecting its’ new home, it actually thrived. Under the supervision of Attilio, the vines were nursed from birth with such precision and attention to detail that they overperformed and have shown rates of high fertility and growth.

Terroir & Site

Situated roughly 10km out of Wellington and Paarl, the Voor Paardeberg Region is a warm growing climate region. Prevailing winds from the West Coast keeps the vineyard cool during the summer, allowing for aeration in the canopy and air flow through the bunches, preventing fungus from developing. The soil is made up of disintegrated granite and mostly clay materials, which are favours the growing conditions of the Vermentino variety.  Vermentino is a medium-to-late ripening cultivar that enjoys a hot climate accompanied by lots of sunshine, making conditions perfect for this Mediterranean cultivar.

Training & Development

The secret to any successful vineyard is in the development and training of its’ vines.  Known to be quite a vigorous variety with higher bud fertility in the upper part of the shoots further away from the V of the vine, the vines were trellised on a Double Arch/Guyot style trellis system. The cordon wire is 70cm off the ground, with the second wire, for the arch, being 20cm above this. The third wire, which is a double wire, is 25cm above this. The 3rd wire, also a double wire, is situated 50cm above the 2nd wire.  Facilitated by Attilio, some of the workers were given special training on pruning and young vine development, and were educated on the importance and advantages.

Planting

The first hectare of Vermentino was planted in 2014. The site holds 3360 Vermentino vines and is planted in a NE to SW row direction, with row widths of 2.5m x 1.2m. This row direction utilises the morning sunlight exposure, facilitating slow ripening and preventing sun damage of grapes during the season. The biggest challenged faced when planting the Vermentino was to create uniformity amongst the vines.

We did not have enough vines for planting, and therefore had to graft more. In 3 months, we managed to develop grafted vines in pot plants. These vines were weaker and smaller in size, due to its short life period of 3 months. The pot plant however, caused the roots to become compressed, hampering the growth of some of the vines. The soil on site was made workable to allow the roots to easily penetrate the soil and to establish a good root system.

Development

After planting, the vines were not left alone for very long. Only 4 buds per vine were left to develop shoots for the next season. After this, they were trained on a rope tied to the cordon wire. The vines were once again left to grow until they reached about half way of the rope. Only 4 shoots per vine were left, using the best positioned and strongest shoot to train and lightly twist around the rope, the others were cut away, preventing unnecessary wastage of the vines energy. Once the vines reached the cordon wire, only 2 shoots per vine were left, one for training, and one used as a spare shoot. The others were cut away. This was used to establish the trunk of the vine.

Pruning

Being a cultivar favouring long pruning, special attention is given to pruning with only a selected few of the farm workers pruning this block.

Method:  2 of the best positioned shoots at the bottom of the arch are chosen. 1 shoot is used for each arm. They are then bent and tied to the cordon wire, to form the arch. After this action, the old wood from the previous production year is pruned away, along with other shoots that have developed, diverting all of the vines energy to growth and production.

Canopy Management

The Guyot Trellising System is quite an open system, and leaves much of the bunches exposed. We practise minimal canopy management in this block. Leave removal is carried out by removing only the bigger leaves in the bunch zone, allowing for the cool morning sun to reach the bunches preventing sun damage. Leaves and watershoots are also removed from the bottom of the trunk, while cutting off weaker shoots, and bunches.

Sprays & Chemicals

At Ayama, we prefer to take a minimal approach when it comes to the usage of chemicals in the vineyard. We only administer sprays for powder and downy mildew. In the first growth season, no sprays were administered on the block. In the second growing season, we sprayed twice, and 4 sprays in the third season.