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UK Wine Show 60 Sioban Harnett Viticulturist at Cloudy Bay Part 2

This show was published 20 July 2007


Sioban Harnett is viticulturist at Cloudy Bay, the iconic New Zealand winery. While there are more words spoken about grapes and winemaking, viticulture is the power house of industry. We talk with Siobán about how Cloudy Bay manages the growing conditions in Marlborough.

Canopy management is about manipulating the vine into an odd and artifical shape in order to encourage even ripeness and control. The vine is trained up onto a wire to form a canopy about 2.2 metres high and then trimmed at the top and sides. The vines can be trimmed at different thicknesses into a thick hedge or fine cover of leaves, depending on the climate. In Marlborough where humidity levels are low and sunlight levels high, they aim for an open, thin canopy. Without a canopy flavours and phenolics can develop too quickly.

The trellising system used at Cloudy Bay is VSP - Vertical Shoot Position - with one upward canopy growth or divided in half - the Scott Henry method which was popular in the mid 1990's. Now that agriculture engineering equipment has evolved you have different settings for leaf plucking and so while Scott Henry system is still used on some blocks it exists more as part of Cloudy Bay story than out of necessity.

I had not really thought too much about using the leaves around the grapes as a method of controlling the ripeness of the grapes, it makes sense I suppose, and by using modern electronic leaf pluckers, the ability to provide that level of detail is essential. I also hadn't appreciated that the development of agricultural equipment has meant a change in trellising systems. It makes sense, as Siobhan says, we are training the vine into an unusual shape to encourage even ripeness and in doing so keep costs down.

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The UK Wine Show is sponsored by ThirtyFifty. Our team of wine tasters are busy entertaining and educating UK consumers to help them get the most out of wine.


The music used for the UK Wine Show is Griffes de Jingle 1 by Marcel de la Jartèle and Silence by Etoile Noire.

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