Can we offer ewe a glass of wine sir?
Woolly workers pave the way for harvest at Brancott Estate
Leading New Zealand wine brand Brancott Estate is gearing up for the 2015 vintage by welcoming an unconventional group of workers into its viticulture team.
“You’d be forgiven for thinking we’re pulling the wool over your eyes”, said Patrick Materman, Chief Winemaker at Brancott Estate. “But sheep play a vital role in preparing the vineyards for harvest.”
The aptly-named ‘woolly workers’ – a herd of Romney/Corriedale cross ewes – go about their day-job plucking leaves from the vine canopy to uncover the bunches of ripening grapes in readiness for picking. For Brancott Estate, leaf removal is particularly important for Pinot Noir vines, in order to expose the developing fruit to sunlight to increase flavour and colour in the berries.
“We have around 1,900 sheep in our vineyards across Marlborough at present, chewing away, quietly and happily”, continued Materman. “Not only are they quicker than human or mechanical leaf pluckers, they are just the right height to pluck all the leaves around the bunches, without damaging the canopy above.
“The dry summer weather means there tends to be very little green feed left on the farms in Marlborough, so they love to come here for a good meal – and luckily for us, they’re not interested in the grapes.”
The 2015 harvest at Brancott Estate is likely to begin in mid-March.
About Brancott Estate:
Honouring their Marlborough heritage, Brancott Estate wines take their name from our cherished Brancott Vineyard, home of the original Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc; one of the world’s favourite New Zealand wine styles.
In 1973, Brancott Vineyard was planted with grapes, a decision that went against the popular opinion of the time that the South Island was too cold to grow grapes. In 1975, Brancott Vineyard was planted with the first Sauvignon Blanc grapes in Marlborough. This pioneering determination and skill of our winemakers and viticulturists continues to be evident in every bottle, as is the care and respect for the land that allow us to produce each and every one. Brancott Estate wines are sourced from multiple vineyards.
Brancott Estate is committed to sustainable practices and is a founding member of New Zealand’s original sustainable winegrowing initiative established in 1995. This programme has since transformed into Sustainable Winegrowing New Zealand (SWNZ). All vineyards and wineries are accredited under the scheme.
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