With our online edition (in the form of a wine-newspaper) “The WinePress”, we would like to provide insights into our working schedule and to illustrate the wine year by our working steps and operational processes.
During opening a bottle of wine, our thoughts often roam wonderful vineyards, the sight of beautiful wooden barrels and, particularly, a very specific relaxation and calmness.
However, to achieve these relaxation and calmness, a lot of laborious work needs to be done until wine is going to be filled up into bottles. It is laborious work and also a lot of manual work. There are a lot of steps in the vineyard, as well as in the wine cellar, that need to be done to achieve an exquisite drop of wine. Overstated, maybe, for a few people this fact can be “recognised by the taste”. However, most of the people remain hidden from the insights into the annual process of a winegrower or from the insights into the origination process of wine.
With the edition of our online magazine “The WinePress”, in 2019 we offer relevant insights into our working year. The wine year, visualised by the four seasons of viniculture, illustrated and brought to life by our “wine sheep”:
Edition 1/2019, The vineyard in winter
Edition 2/2019, The vineyard in spring
Edition 3/2019, The vineyard in summer, online now
Edition 4/2019, The vineyard in autumn, online as of September 2019
The vineyard in summer
Still keep on mowing and mulching, vine care
As it was started in spring, mowing and mulching, as well as vine care, are also practiced throughout the whole summer.
During mulching, the grass is cut off and remains in the vineyard to cover the ground. This ecological method serves to protect the soil and to supply the soil with nutrients. The soil in the vineyard is exposed to many external influences such as wind, dryness, etc. Therefore, it is useful to build up a protective layer, the so-called “mulch”. This principle is copied from nature. In the nature, there is practically no naked earth: usually, leaves, broken branches, plants or a humus layer naturally cover the soil. Correctly mulched, the soil remains damp, the wind cannot dry out the soil and water does not evaporate easily. In turn, rain is absorbed by the earth and does not wash it away. The protective layer also prevents weed growth. Useful natural supporters, such as worms, bacteria and microorganisms break up the soil under the mulch layer and decompose the organic layer of the grass clippings. By this way, nutrients are added to the soil and the humus layer grows.
Below the vines, the grass is removed mechanically. In the steepest of our vineyards, the grass between the rows of vines and below the vines is going to be mowed by hand and by using a scythe. This is performed under an enormous physical effort.
All young vines are hand-weeded (plucked out of grass).
The entire vine care is carried out only on a covered sward, except for young vines.
Mowing and mulching by sheep . . .
. . . from milk sheep to “WINEsheep”
Marcello and many other sheep are busy mowing and mulching our steep slopes. Basically, in the steepest of our vineyards, the grass between the rows of vines and under the vines is going to be mowed by hand with the scythe, under enormous physical effort. This year sheep of the breed “Krainer Steinschaf” are supporting mowing and mulching for the first time. Therefore, mowing and mulching are done in the most natural way. Since we cultivate all our vineyards organically, there are numerous tender grasses and only the best herbs for the sheep available.
The sheep of the breed “Krainer Steinschaf”, which is an old farm animal breed, are traditional dairy (milk) sheep.
The official race description reads: The “Krainer Steinschaf “ is one of the oldest remaining Austrian sheep breeds, originally based in the Julian Alps in the border triangle of Carinthia, Slovenia and Friuli.”
The small- to medium-framed animals are slender, with a straight nose profile, with short, horizontal, non-hanging ears. The colours are black-brown, white, rarely greying or spotted. The animals are mostly hornless. Forehead, belly and tail are with wool, face and legs are without wool.
The sheep of the breed “Krainer Steinschafe” are resistant and frugal with a good life performance. The hard claws and the coarse mixed-wool with crests on the back causing that precipitation drains well, make them weather-resistant, uncomplicated sheep, which are ideally qualified for grazing.
Through centuries of use as dairy sheep, these animals are very trusting. The herd cohesion is very strong.
Leaf thinning/(foliage treatment/leaf-cut)
During the vegetation period, leaf thinning completes the wintry grapevine pruning. Such as pruning, also leaf thinning is used to create and to maintain an optimal form of the growth of the vines to use the photosynthesis of the foliage at best.
The shoots and the side shoots of the foliage are removed. In our winery, the shortening of the shoots and the removing of the side shoots are carried out at the latest possible time. The later the shoots are shortened, the earlier the physiological maturity occurs > this results in a high quality of grapes.
During summer, the grapes are growing.
Grapes are the infructescence of the vines. The single fruits of the infructescence are called “berries”. Colloquial, the definition “berry” or “grape” is not always used correctly. From the botanic point of view, the shape of the infructescence with branched lateral axes is not a “grape”, it is called “panicle”. The single blossoms of the vines are taken together in an inflorescence, in German called “Geschein”. The peel and the seeds of the berries contain oligomeric proanthocyanidins (OPC). Among other things, they act as powerful antioxidants. There can be made grape seed oil and grape seed flour from the seeds. The seeds, as well as the peel of the berries, are also an essential source of the antioxidant resveratrol.
We are keeping permanently a keen eye on the growing process. This means, in summer our main focus is based on the development of the vines and of the grapes.
Our vineyards are places full of living nature – our wines are products of grapes from organic and ecological cultivation.
Organic biologic viniculture is also known as “organic viticulture” or “organic wine growing”.
The most important criteria of organic agriculture are:
– the prohibition of the usage of herbicides,
– the support of soil health and soil fertility by a very careful soil cultivation, as well as
– a vineyard cultivation considering the natural circulation
Organic biologic agriculture is an essential measure to increase the biodiversity of the ecosystem in the vineyards. This requires an increased expenditure of time and costs for the soil care and for the natural plant protection.
The wine cellar in summer
In the late summer, just before harvesting, our Premier Cru STK Wines are extracted from the oak casks and prepared for the bottling.
During summer the wooden barrels must be kept full up to the bung hole, further on.