Kubota and Clemens – Activity in the Vineyard

Green From 52 - Kubota

Vineyard activity from the pinnacle of Block 52


Wednesday morning we took an opportunity to get out into the vineyard with Lucas and see how work among the vines is progressing.  The cover crop creates a striking canvas of underlying green throughout the vineyard in distinct contrasted to the various shades when the vines are active and despite chill season, the hearty aroma of fresh growth fills the air.  We are currently in the process of pruning and performing weed mitigation throughout our plantings.  At the moment 70% of the vineyard is composed of mature, fruit producing vines, the other 30% is still making its way toward the point where usable fruit will be produced (we begin harvesting fruit once a vine has reached its 3rd leafing).  


Lucas and Kubota

Lucas, Kaya, and Kubota driven by Miguel


In the past we have used a Kubota (the half-track style tractor in the photo above) with a Pelenc attachment to ‘massage’ out weed growth and turn the soil immediately around and between the vines while preserving cover crop between the rows.  The impetus behind the use of in row attachments is to eliminate the necessity of sprays to mitigate weed growth.  Such practices are vital for vineyard health and integral to Sustainability In Practice.  The effort is more complicated this year given the youth of our new plantings, if we were to use the Pelenc in the younger blocks it is likely we would maim or uproot the thin young vines.  As a solution we have converted from the Pelenc attachment to the Clemens (pictured below).  The primary difference is that the Clemens has a trigger mechanism that causes the ‘skis’ to swing inward before they have an opportunity touch the vine.  When swung outward, the skis essentially function to till up the top 2-3 inches of soil, breaking up the root structure of small weeds and interrupting unwanted growth.  By running the tractor and its attachment through the vineyard 2-3 times before spring awakening, we eliminate the need for weeks of hand tilling.


Attachments - Kubota

Lucas demonstrates the Clemens’s trigger mechanism


Kubota in Action

Kubota and Clemens in action


While Miguel performs his magic with the tractor, a few separate teams are working their way through the vineyard, pruning back last year’s growth to prepare for budbreak.  The process begins by using a hedging tool to reduce all dormant shoots to a similar height.


Ready for pruning

Last year’s shoot growth hedged in preparation for pruning


Once we’ve achieved uniformity in shoot length throughout the vineyard, more specialized teams work through the property, pruning down to the precise spur positions we want.  Each spur position represents a point on the vine where next year’s shoots will appear during budbreak.  There are generally 8-10 spur positions per vine and 2 buds (shoots) per spur position).


Pruned Vine

Fully pruned example vine in Block 30 Cabernet Sauvignon


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Kaya and Monday

Quizzical looks from Kaya and Monday

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