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Our Vineyard Manager Tom took over for the morning and taught our keen group of guests the basics of this key process in the grape growing year (vital for the healthy development of our vines – all 38,000 of them) which takes place from December to March. It’s a side of the winemaking process often overlooked for the more glamorous tasting, or more familiar processes such as blending, bottling and ageing, despite it arguably being the most important job of them all! Tom also spoke about how to care for your tools and how the theory of pruning can be adapted to other plants in the garden. Everyone was left green-eyed when the electronic secateurs came out! Tom talked in detail about the importance of spacing, height, style and maintenance of vines specific to Langham Wine Estate’s site – in our case Vertical Shoot Positioning (or VSP).
After a detailed induction in the tasting room, where everyone had the chance to fire questions at Tom (ably assisted by winemaker Daniel), everyone headed out into the wintry vineyard for the chance to put their newly learned skills into practice. Guests split into pairs and after studying yesterday’s work on a row of Pinot Meunier, were let loose on their own vines. Everyone was extremely respectful of each vine and, although fully briefed, ensured either Tom or Daniel approved their choice of cane, spur and cutting position.
As the rain could hold off no longer, and we don’t prune in the rain due to the risk of spores (plus it’s a bit miserable!), the group then headed back into the warmth for a tutored tasting of the Langham range, and a hearty bowl of local game stew (or ratatouille), prepared by Andrew James and The Vineyard Café team. The marmalade bread and butter pudding with lashings of custard was just what was needed after a stomp around the chilly, soggy vineyards!The feedback we received is testimony to the fact that a brilliant day was had by all. It was great to have so much enthusiasm for this all-important process on what was admittedly a pretty bleak January day, and so we hope to have inspired as well as educated.Do keep an eye on our website and social media for details of upcoming events, including our Fizz Fridays!