What a wonderful time to take a bike and explore the
crus classés of Bordeaux!
Discover everything that goes on in the vineyards – there’s never a moment’s rest!
At this time of the year, wine-growers are busy with staking out the vines (trellising) and de-budding (removing unwanted shoots).
But what exactly does ‘trellising’ mean? Our guide explains:
In the vineyards, the trellis (a metal frame or lattice) is used to support the plants – to help the vines grow upwards, avoid tangling and make sure the grapes get enough light and air. This vine training system consists of fixing an iron wire from a stake at the beginning of one row, to another stake at the end of the row. At the middle posts (every 5 metres) the wire can be repositioned with the help of hooks, to essentially ‘imprison’, or stake out the branches.
The repositioning is done twice to help the branches grow to the right length and height – until the wine-grower decides to stop the process by pruning the plants. The careful training of the highest branches helps dictate the exact access to sunlight and air the grapes will need to properly ripen. Another advantage of trellising, or vine training, is to keep the rows between the plants clear, so as to leave space for the tractors which frequently rid the ground of weeds and unwanted plants.
This morning we stopped off in Pessac-Léognan. The workers showed us exactly how they train the plants to grow upwards by the hooks, and how this process makes sure the branches grow in as straight a line as possible.
Further along, we come across another group of wine-makers busy ‘de-budding’ (removing the shoots they don’t want). Certain vine shoots do not bear any fruit, and are therefore useless to wine-growers. Often, these buds grow on the stumps of the plant and can interfere with the nourishment of future grapes.
Pruning knives in hand, the wine-growers cut off the unwanted buds, leaving them aside to dry off.
From the seat of our bikes, we are seriously impressed with the intricate processes that go into wine-making – and we haven’t seen the half of it!