we winegrowers have to recognize fine nuances of taste, every child knows that. But we also have to show a lot of sensitivity in other areas - and especially at this time of the year. Because now it's time to bend without breaking!
First of all, the weather has to be right. The vines must have a little more juice than in winter so that they are not too dry and brittle. Ideally, a steady drizzle should be added. When the time is right, let's get started:
The sprawling branches of the vines are gently bent horizontally and wrapped several times around the transverse wire ropes that run through each row. Then they are tied to the wire ropes with a machine ( which we in the Palatinate affectionately call Pellenc binders ). After all, a hand machine like this weighs just under a kilo, so as a winegrower you develop completely new muscles!
Pellenc Fixion 2.0 electric tying machine
The “Pellenc binder” has the special wire that we use on a roll. We call it binding wire. You hold the machine to the wire rope with the vine, press the button and the binding wire shoots out, forms a loop and pulls tight (see video clip). And we repeat this several times for all 32,000 little plants with their 1 to 2 branches per vine!
Yes, this is work where you can let your mind wander, listen to podcasts, learn three to four foreign languages and make phone calls (with a headset) - or just enjoy the crunching of the ground under your boots and the first spring chirping of the birds, while the practiced hands flatter the vines into the right position.
In this short video clip, our former viticulture student Sarah shows you how it's done!
But why are we doing this at all? Why don't we just let the vineyards happily shoot up? A grapevine has two goals in life: it wants to grow and bear fruit. However, this is a contradiction in terms: either she puts her strength in big branches and growth OR she puts her strength in the fruit. By trimming and later bending, we ensure that she focuses on her fruit. That's why the trunk of a vine is only about a meter high - and winegrowers are ideally small. :-) Not quite as small as jockeys, but as a two-meter person it's a bit exhausting in the vineyards.
So if you want to judge how old a vineyard is, the height tells you nothing. The thickness of the trunks, on the other hand, tells the shrewd eye how old a vineyard is. A vine bears fruit from the first year. After 35 years, the investment has roughly amortized (ie paid off). Otherwise, there is actually no expiry date, because the yield decreases only slightly over the years. How long the vine stays is at the discretion of the winemaker.Incidentally,theoldest vineyard in the world is in the neighboring town of Rhodt, is aGewürztraminerand is just 400 years old. He too is still carrying grapes!
But back to the here and now of the wine-growing year: After bending, we wait for spring ... and now the vineyard can finally rest until the first leaves sprout. The vine grows around the binding wire ... until it is cut back next year. (By the way, the binding wire is designed to dissolve within a year.) Because every year the groundhog says hello.
So much work makes you thirsty. Our Muskateller may not be a Gewürztraminer and is only 13 years old, but it is at least as aromatic and full-bodied as its older “brother”, the Gewürztraminer.