Vineyard Annual Cycle

Appears in

Oxford Companion to Wine

Oxford Companion to Wine

By Jancis Robinson

Published 2006

  • About

The march of the seasons through the year dictates the work to be done in vineyards (see vine growth cycle). Spring is the time of budbreak, and early ploughing and spraying must be done. Early spring is also the common time for planting vineyards, once the danger of frost is past. As the temperatures rise, the vine shoots grow more rapidly, and flowering takes place in early summer. This can be a busy period as often fungicide sprays are to be applied, and the first shoot positioning is carried out. Soon after fruit set is the time for the second shoot positioning. In those vineyards of the world where irrigation is practised, the first applications of water are often made around this time, and may continue up to the time of harvest. About this period the nurseryman is doing bench grafting, and it is also the time for field budding and grafting. As the summer progresses, trimming is carried out, typically before veraison. Many vine-growers are involved with further spraying of agrochemicals and often continued cultivation. Depending on the vine variety and region, the harvest may be in early, mid, or late summer, and sometimes in the autumn. Whenever it occurs, it is one of the busiest periods in the vineyard, often involving sampling to test grape ripeness before the harvest itself. Depending on the spread of varieties, the harvest may be brief or protracted, but few other jobs are attended to in the vineyard at this time. The period immediately following harvest is busy in the wineries but not so in the vineyards, and vineyard workers and viticulturists often take their annual leave then. This is also the common time for soil ripping and maintenance of machinery and trellis systems. Once the leaves fall, the serious business of pruning begins, and, depending on the scale of operations, this may continue right up until budbreak. This is also the time when cuttings are taken for propagation.