Cloudy with a
We pay a visit to cloudy bay Vineyards, arguably New Zealand’s best-known wine producer, for a special celebration of Pinot Noir.
IT was a sunny day at Cloudy Bay. The rays of sunshine cast its warm rays across the rolling hills of the Wairau Valley, illuminating the rows and rows of gnarly, leafless grapevines that dominated the landscape.
These gnarly plants may not seem like much now, but they would later burst into lush bushes and vines of green and gold, with glistening round grapes hanging from their boughs, ready to be harvested and turned into the liquid nectar that is Cloudy Bay wine.
However, it was only September during the time of my visit – winter was just about over, and springtime was looming on the horizon. It was a time to prune the vines, to give these wise old vines their annual haircut, so to speak, and prepare them for the approaching summer.
As part of the media visit to Cloudy Bay in conjunction with their Pinot At Cloudy Bay event (more on that later), we were given an in-depth look at the winery’s viticulture practices. Besides a visit to the vineyards, as well as a wine-blending session, we were given a chance to prune some grapevines as well, which explains why I was standing in the middle of a vineyard, holding a pair of pruning shears in my hand, looking slightly confused, and hoping to high heavens that I don’t unintentionally ruin an entire harvest of grapes for Cloudy Bay.
Fortunately, pruning grapevines is quite simple, actually, and Cloudy Bay winemaker and viticulturist Jim White assured us that a bunch of journalists accidentally cutting a few wrong branches hardly constituted a plague of locusts.
“Don’t be scared about damaging the grapevines because we’re going to cut them all off next year anyway, and you can’t really do too much damage here,” he said. “Just don’t cut the trunks!”
After summer, grapevines tend to lose all their leaves and what they are left with is one strong, stout trunk, a few older and stronger branches, and a whole mess of smaller, upward-growing little branches that used to be those lush bushes of leaves and fruit. The job of the pruner, therefore, is to cut off these excess branches, determine which ones are strong enough to keep, and then tie them to the wire frames horizontally.
there are few things better than enjoying a glass of cloudy bay Sauvignon blanc at the winemakers’ vineyards.