As we begin to finish pruning various vineyards, we then mulch up last year’s cane with a heavy flail or cane flail. This speeds up the breakdown process and helps incorporate organic matter back into the soil. It also helps clear the way (literally… due to the high volume of cane it is troublesome to operate any machinery in rows until the cane is broken down) for the next steps in our vineyards which are composting and adding other amendments such as calcium, phosphorous and potassium. Seth Miller, one of our Vineyard Managers, kindly provided some photos of this process.
The last one is of a row that has been flailed and then given a sufficient dressing of compost. This row will next be limed and in the late spring will be disced into the soil and replanted with a cover crop.
In doing these things we are establishing a solid foundation for a healthy vineyard. Plants with good health and vigor balance are better able to resist disease and ripen fruit. There is also a correlation with nutrition levels and the ability to properly ferment after harvest in the winery. In other words, the yeast works better when the fruit is healthy.