Rosa’s top 10 tips for vineyard managers

Award-winning viticulturist Rosa Kruger reveals the best ways to add quality to grapes

 

  • Rosa Kruger
  • 2018-10-08
Renowned vineyard manager Rosa Kruger was praised for treating “each vineyard as a family and each vine as a member of it” when she collected the 2018 IWC Personality of the Year award.
Here, she passes on the lessons she has learned while saving old vines in South Africa and travelling more than 6,000km a month to check vineyards.

1. Stay true to the terroir – in sculpting the vines as well as in the cellar. The vineyard should be planted and grow according to its surroundings, rather than from a standard method of pruning or trellising. In this way, the grapes will reflect that specific area. For example, bush vines in Swartland are shaped to deal with the heat and drought conditions, the weaver baskets of Santorini to deal with the wind etc.
2. Plant varieties that will express your terroir the best. In South Africa, we have no regulations on what to plant where. We are, at the moment, planting new varieties in new areas (even at 1600m above sea level) to see which variety will work best in which new area.

‘Prune the vine according to its needs, rather than according to a recipe’
3. Be a very skilled pruner that respects the vine and prune the vine according to its needs, rather than according to a recipe.
4. Keep the effect of global warming in mind in designing new vineyards anywhere in the world. In my country we are designing new plantings in such a way that we capture every little bit of rain and direct it to a dam. We are also trying to plant in such a way that we escape the terrible effects of soil compaction.

Andre en Rosa
5. Go more green in any way you can – for the sake of your vines, your wines and the future of this planet. That includes constantly developing the health and life in your soils.

‘The people that work in the vineyards… should understand that what they do to the vines will add or subtract to the quality of the wine’
6. Train the people that work your vines. Viticulture should be an integral part of the culture of the people that work in the vineyards. They should understand plants and vines and that what they do to the vines will add or subtract to the lifespan of that vine and add or subtract to the quality of the wine.
7. Always do your financial planning for new developments as well as existing vineyards. The wine business, from what I know, is not an easy way to make money and your business should always be built on sound business principles.
8. Taste wines – as many as you can – from different areas and different countries to keep on learning about wine and the changing markets.
9. Grow vines in the most natural way possible – without adding too much fertiliser to the soil or over-irrigating it. Let the vine express itself in a natural way, rather than just be an extension of the human hand.
10. Have fun and enjoy working in your vineyards and/or making the wine. This is your life!

20160908 Vineyard FHoek Pano
For further details of The Old Vine Project visit the ‘I am Old’ website: www.iamold.co.za
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