The journal of the birth of a wine – The genesis of the vineyard.
In these days, in Cavanera Etnea estate, in Verzella district in Castiglione di Sicilia (Etna), we are building a new vineyard of Nerello Mascalese grape.
But how is a vineyard actually created?
The phases and choices to be made are many and fundamental, because they will determine the physiological, vegetative and productive balance of the vineyard and therefore of the quality of its grapes in the future.
In the first phase, it is important to collect all the information related to the soil and the climate and above all to observe the context surrounding our future vineyard. We have carried out a representative sampling of the soil to carry out the soil analysis, which provides useful indications for future green manure, for the formulation of the organic fertilization of the plant, the type of work to be carried out. But above all we have all the necessary information for the choices regarding the vegetative material to be used, future vines or rootstocks and clones or mass selections.
Once all these choices have been made, the preparatory steps for the planting of the cuttings or rootstocks are carried out, such as:
– double layer processing by a subsoiler that aerates the ground;
– the organic fertilization of the plant, if the soil has a deficiency of nutrients,
– the tracing of planting layouts and staking;
The planting of the cuttings is generally carried out at the end of winter so that they can benefit from the first spring rains and allow the development of the roots which will be ready and active for budding and for the development of the shoots.
At the time of planting the cuttings, the roots (“barbs”) are slightly shortened to 10-15 cm, thus stimulating rapid re-growth in the soil.
The cuttings can be planted in different ways depending on the type of soil, the position and extent of the future vineyard. In very skeletal soils, a 20×20 cm deep hole is excavated, 30 cm deep, in loose and sandy or not very compact soils you can help yourself with the “fork”, a rod with two teeth that facilitate the operation finally, modern transplanting machine can be used in large and machinable soils.
In our estate with small terraced plots and presence of skeleton, carry out the planting by digging a hole and planting the grapevine in a delicate and manual way.
The grafting point (the natural “welding” between rootstock and the variety of European Vitis) must remain above the ground level in order to better germinate and avoid any release.
The other interesting and exclusive aspect of few places in the world, such as Etna, is the possibility of planting the chosen varieties, such as Nerello Mascalese, Nerello Cappuccio or Carricante with a free foot, or without rootstock, such as pre phylloxera. The highly sandy soils of volcanic origin don’t allow Phylloxera to damage the roots of the vines on the loose.