Sunday, December 13, 2015

Vine training and vineyard management practices in the North Greece wine region

In my most recent post on the North Greece wine region, I reported on the varieties and rootstocks deployed therein. In this post I continue to elaborate the relevant elements of the W-MEA model for the region.

New or replacement rootstock and scion installations are primarily based on clonal, rather than massal, selection. The key objective of any clonal selection program is to improve crop yield and grape quality by providing virus-free rootstocks and scions to the grower. Such material is classified as certified stock and, in all but one case, the North Greece estates indicated their use of such planting material.

The training system most widely utilized in the region is the bilateral cordon, with bush-trained vines at Tsantali Rapsani (depending on the zone) and for some old Xinomavro vines at Alpha Estate. These old Xinomavro vines bring to mind the old Grenache bush-trained vines in sandy soils at Chateau Rayas and Domaine La Barroche in Chateauneuf du Pape.

93-year-old Xinomavro vines at Alpha estate
Angelos Iatridis (winemaker) among the bilateral
cordons at Alpha Estate

The region's commitment to producing high quality fruit from healthy soils, and with minimal impact on the environment, is demonstrated by the high incidence of organic -- or some type of sustainability -- as the vineyard management regime of choice. Alpha Estate, for example, is certified sustainable and is configured to, and utilizes, precision viticulture. As an example, the winery is hooked up to weather stations in Austria and, as a result, gets significant advance notice of weather systems that may be coming its way.

Pest control practices follow the dictates of integrated pest management (graphically illustrated below). For those practicing organic farming, sulphur and copper are used as disease control tools.


Grass is used as a cover crop to contribute towards healthy soils by providing a habitat for beneficial flora and fauna as well as providing mild stress to the vines through competition for available water resources.

The estates engage in active canopy management in order to ensure balanced vine growth and provide sunlight access to the fruiting zone. Shoot thinning is practiced by all respondents and leaf culling is specifically mentioned by Domaine Porto Carras, Wine Art Estate, and Tsantali Rapsani.

Irrigation is allowed to offset the limited rainfall in the region. Kir-Yianni induces moderate water stress for its red grapes through controlled irrigation and a similar strategy is followed by the other estates. Alpha Estate practices precision viticulture and its manifestation in this area is an underground irrigation system which monitors soil conditions and delivers the precise amount of water to the specific vine when needed.

©Wine -- Mise en abyme

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