Vines with character

Posted by Jane Leckie. Filed under Vineyard

If  you are used to driving through wine regions where the vines are manicured and neatly trellised in uniform rows the 37 year old vines at She-Oak Hill may appear somewhat chaotic.

The trellising is lower than that found in recent vineyard plantings, the vines are gnarled and bent and during the growing season the unruly canes tend to sprawl across the mid rows.

All these features make it more of a challenge to work among the vines either manually or with  equipment . But I wouldn’t change it for the world. Our old vines have such personality, each knot and twist tells a story. Stories driven by passion rather than expertise, tales of the growth of a wine region, sagas of great seasons or droughts and bush fires. These vines have shared the yarns of pickers and the gossip of pruners across several generations.

I often refer to this part of the vineyard as the ‘nursing home’ block as the vines require a great deal of individual attention to keep them producing viably. Of course this means that each vine is as familiar to me as an old friend and I regard them with the affection I would feel towards my mates. And like good friends these vines reward us generously for our efforts. The fruit is rich and intense when it reaches maturity. It offers special older vine flavor of leather, cassis and spice and great depth of color to the wine we produce making the challenge they present over the season always worthwhile.

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