Holm Oak Wines
Organic Wines and Vineyard Management
Nowadays, more and more fine wine sellers are seeking stocks of "organic" wines, that is, wine made from grapes that have been grown without the use of pesticides and industrial fertilizers. In recent years, higher grape yields from vineyards have been made possible by a number of new growing techniques, among them "canopy management". This is the technique of training a vine along a trellis in a manner that exposes more foliage and promotes photosynthesis. Vineyard managers have long known that excessive shading of grapes can hamper the ripening process and even aid the development of bacterial and fungal diseases like bacterial blight or angular leaf spot. However, this technique is not suitable for all vineyards.
Controlled by Climate
As with all produce, vineyards are in thrall to their prevailing climate. Grapes grow best in a climate that is not extreme. Typically, growing vines need plenty of sunshine (though not too hot), and well-drained sandy soil. For this reason, many vineyards are sited on hillsides. In the northern hemisphere, vineyards are grown on south-facing hills and in the southern hemisphere, on north-facing hills. This helps to maximise sunlight and good vineyard management plays a part, too. The professional vineyard owner or manager is aware of the appropriate growing density in which to maximise benefits from soil, sunlight and rainfall. If the growth is too dense, the grape yield from individual plants will be low. Planting vines too far apart is not only a waste of growing space, it also deprives vines of the benefit of the "microclimate". For example, in areas afflicted by winds, managers choose to plant vines rather more closely together.
Great Grape Management
The good vineyard manager will lead a team of people, a team that has the ability to prune and thin efficiently during the growing season. Their culling of plants and removal of fruit with the least potential will allow the better plants to thrive and improve the quality of wine yields. Other plants growing in the locality, for example, lavender flowers, influence the flavour of the wine produced. In Europe, the majority of vineyards are situated in both northern and southern France, in southern Germany and northern Spain. However, Fine Wine Sellers will be interested to know that there are almost four hundred commercial vineyards in England and Wales, the majority in places like Surrey and Kent.
Although the yields are small, the "average" British vineyard being between one and five acres (although a number are as large as fifty acres), this will allow the vendor of fine wines to add interest to his stock with unusual vintages. For the vendor who is interested, there are online registries of British vineyards displaying details of location, opening times, and the kinds and quantities of wines produced. Many of these vineyards have onsite restaurants where patrons can enjoy sampling the wines along with select dishes. Of course, the majority of vineyards have annual, organised wine-tastings, and Fine Wine Sellers should check with the vineyard manager for details of times and dates.