We have just completed the soil preparation for new vineyards to be planted this year.
First the soil is ripped to a depth of 1.2m, after which it is ploughed to a depth of 1.2m. With this plough action the soil is properly loosened to create space for the roots of the young vines that will grow there for the next 20 to 25 years. Phosphates, potassium and lime is mixed deep into the soil during the ploughing to ensure it is present throughout the profile.
The Western Cape soils are primarily acidic with a pH of 5.5 – 6.5, hence the need to add nutrients during soil preparation. Samples are taken and analysed in a laboratory by a soil scientist.
Before getting to the soil preparation phase, vines needed to be ordered from a nursery already a year in advance. Most of the vineyard nurseries are in the town Wellington in the Western Cape.
Planning for a vineyard starts even earlier – establishing a vineyard is quite expensive at R250 000 per hectare. You need to be absolutely sure which wine you want to use the grapes for and ensure there is a market for it.
The desired wine and style will determine which cultivar and clone will be planted. The winemaking and sales team need to have a clear long term plan with no room for speculation due to the big long term investment that goes into establishing a new vineyard.
The viticulturist and soil scientist combine their knowledge of soil and rootstock properties to determine the best suitable clone for the given soil type and profile before the vines are ordered from the nursery, once again proving that all good wines, start in the vineyards.