Larry McKenna


How to (Re)Plant a Vineyard


So, a little while ago we decided to replant one of our blocks at Escarpment, which we call Spurs. It was originally Pinot Noir, and was one of the first blocks to be planted back in 1999. The block itself is right next to our Kupe block, nestled right into the southernmost corner of our vineyard, just beside the Escarpment itself.

It was decided to unify the Kupe brand, to have both the Kupe Pinot Noir and Kupe Chardonnay come from the same site, in the same planting style and viticulture. And so, to this end, we replaced the Pinot vines in Spurs with Chardonnay, in a mix of some classic and brand new clones. All up, it’s about 4,250 brand new Chardonnay plants.

Now, you may think, it’s just planting some sticks in the ground, right, how hard could it be? Well, let me tell you, it was quite a lot of work, most of which, it seemed, fell to me! It started before we started vintage, and was only just finished this week!

First things first, you must get rid of the old vines. We cut them all away down to their trunks, which then allowed us to come in with the tractor, a chain attached to the front forklift to sling around each vine, and pull them up out of the ground. It’s easier said than done, some of these vines had some pretty developed root systems! This also seemed to take place all in the rain, at least in my memory. Then you got to remove them all from the actual block. At least the vines make good firewood.

Next up, it was moving all the wires up high enough that they weren’t in the way, and getting rid of all the old irrigation, which needed to be replaced anyway. Then came multiple passes with a cultivator, to make sure there was absolutely nothing growing there to compete with the young vines. Once all the grass and everything had completely died out, we were finally ready for the actual planting!

Not so fast though. First, we had to mark out were each new vine would go, then dig some holes! We marked the positions for each vine with a pink ice block stick, and then got to work with a couple of post hole borers, which may have been the worst piece of equipment I’ve ever used. A few bruised and battered legs latter, we were ready.

It had seemed, to me at least, to take months to build up to the actual planting. However, the planting itself, thanks to all our wonderful workers, only took about 10 hours to smash out! All that time for one long day of planting, it felt a little anti-climactic to me.

Kupe Chardonnay Planting

Great, we are done now, right? Nope. We had to re-lower the trellising, fruiting, and irrigation wires and repair the wires and posts that had broken. Next, we covered our little vines with green sheathes called grow-guards to protect them, and staked them out so they had enough room to grow. Finally, we ran out new irrigation and put that all together again, so the young vines can drink all the water they need to grow up big and strong, and here we are today!

Kupe Chardonnay Block 2

With the added anticipation of the upcoming birth of our newest Escarpment Kupe Chardonnay vines, we have decided to release a competition to all our fans. All you need to do is predict which vine will come out of the “grow guards” first, so choose a number between the 1 – 4250.

Whoever chooses the closest number will Win a Magnum of Escarpment Pinot Noir.

Hurry the vines should be up within the next week, so get guessing quickly!

Head to Facebook or Twitter and “Like” the post and Comment with your vine number to be in the draw.

Ryan McKenna


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