a bit about
Sidewood’s Vineyards are carefully manicured to ensure the fruit flavour profiles are at their peak when harvested.
Directors of Vitiworks, Mark Vella and Peter McIntyre have been a vital part of the Sidewood Team since 2008. Mark and Peter have a combined experience of 35 years in the wine industry with over 25 years in the Adelaide Hills.
Vitiworks has an experienced team of qualified viticulturists, dedicated machine operator’s and experienced labour crews to ensure the highest level of management within the Sidewood Estate vineyards.
To learn more about the Vineyard Management team and the services they provide, please visit www.vitiworks.com.au.
life in vine
The yearly growth cycle of both the vine and vineyard requires a series of processes to produce the best quality grapes.
Growing grapes for super premium wine production is a complex process. Every vineyard is different and getting
the right mix of climate, variety, terroir and management is fundamental and critical to the final product.
To learn more about what occurs at Sidewood
amongst the vineyards continue reading below.
The vines are enjoying some relaxation after a busy harvest and have gone into ‘dormancy’ as the weather cools.
Before the vines are pruned, the team of Viticulturist’s take samples of buds from the vines and dissect them under a microscope.
The dissection results will provide data that is used to estimate bunch counts, bud health and bud mortality.
From this information and trial pruning in the vineyard our viticulturists then prepare a plan for pruning the vines.
PLANNING & BUDGETS
The Sidewood team (Viticulturist, Winemaker, Marketing Team and Production Team) carefully analyse the past 24 months of sales performance and then decide on the requirements for the new vintage.
From the finalised production numbers a vineyard pruning model is formed. This takes into consideration the volumes required for Sidewood’s total production broken down into detail outlining each variety, quality parameters and potential surplus product.
Pruning is one of the most important operations within the vineyard cycle.
Essentially the pruning operation sets up the cropping levels / yield for the growing season and directly impacts on quality and quantity of fruit produced.
Each block is hand pruned in different ways to achieve the target cropping levels. Each of the Sidewood vineyards are different with respect to variety, location, fruitfulness, soil fertility and micro-climate and this significantly affects how the team prune each individual block.
Winter is a time of extremely high maintenance for the team with trellis repairs and preventative frost maintenance completed in preparation for the growing season.
For three months, sheep from neighbouring farms in the Adelaide Hills roam amongst the vines taking the place of machinery and manpower to control weeds and provide fertiliser to the vines.
Sidewood uses sustainable practices where possible to minimise input requirements without jeopardising the final outcome.
As the sun begins to warm the ground and life starts to return to flora after the dormant Winter months, sap runs through the vines and the first buds of the growing season swell and break open and small leaves begin to emerge.
Due to the cool climate region proactive frost management is needed by our viticulture team to ensure that the vines are protected by any overnight or early morning frost risks.
The viticulture team are on alert 24 hours a day to ensure that preventative maintenance is implemented when necessary to protect the vines and new shoot growth from mother nature.
As shoots start to rapidly grow from the buds, they are trained to grow vertically and form a canopy.
It is the balanced canopy (shoots and leaves) that absorb the suns energy and through photosynthesis converts the energy towards the inflorescence and fruit production.
Throughout Spring the viticulture team closely monitor the weather and vine growth patterns to ensure the vines are healthy and happy.
Intervention by shoot thinning, fertiliser applications, water applications (irrigation) are all necessary to maximise shoot and canopy requirements to have the vines ready for the reproductive cycle to begin.
About 8-10 weeks after bud burst, the grape flowers will emerge from the shoots ready for flowering.
Flowering usually takes between 7 – 10 days depending on temperature. Flowering is the reproductive stage of the vineyard cycle when pollination of the fruiting material (inflorescence) takes place. Once flowering is completed newly formed berries begin rapid cell division and growth. These tiny little berries turn into amazing bunches of grapes!
This is an anxious time of year for the Sidewood team with Mother Nature calling the shots. Fine, mild weather during this time will promote an even and healthy setting of fruit.
Adverse conditions like high winds or excessive wet weather conditions can potentially damage the fragile reproductive tissue reducing the quantity and quality of the fruit. It is at this crucial time that weather patterns determine the quality and yield of the coming harvest.
The viticulture team continue to monitor the vine health from budburst in Spring until harvest and both nutrition and irrigation are essential inputs required to maximise production.
Both red and white grape varieties are grown in different ways to maximise fruit quality and it is the daily management and attention to detail through this period which enhances the end product.
About six weeks after fruit set, veraison begins. As the weather really starts to heat up, the grapes ripen going through growth and accumulating sugar from the heat absorbed by the canopy of the vines as the season progresses. It is during this ripening process that the fruit begins to develop aroma, flavour, natural acidity and tannin development.
This is a truly magical time of year in the vineyard with hard green berries changing colour to a deep purple or a golden green in a process called Veraison. This tells our Viticulturists that a certain level of sugar has been reached and the team can begin to plan for when to harvest.
As the growth continues into late Summer, the volume in each berry increases and the acidity decreases.
Bird control is implemented from veraison until harvest to protect the fruit from the hungry birds. Both netting and audio sound systems are used to deter birds from damaging a premium quality fruit.
From veraison to harvest the grapes are tested in the winery lab on a daily basis. The picking decision is ultimately made on flavour, baume (sugar level) and acidity. The viticulture and winemaking team work very closely during this time as the culmination of patience and hard work from the year comes to fruition as the crucial decision of when to pick the fruit is eventually made.
Once the optimum ripening levels have been reached and the decision of when to pick has been made a mix between hand pickers and harvesting machines move quickly to pick the fruit off the vines. Grapes intended for sparkling wine are picked first followed by the grapes for white wines and the red grapes for red wine are picked last.
Once picked, the grape bunches are quickly transported to the winery where they are processed.
Once harvest is completed the grapes are taken to Nairne Winery to begin the process to turn them into wine. Learn more about this process by clicking here.
The vines are treated to nutrition and water to maximise carbohydrate (energy) storage for the next growing season.
The viticulture team clean up the harvesting equipment and machinery used throughout the season and then take a short break before they come back full of energy ready to start again.