Pruning, Recepage & Grafting – Domaine Mirabeau in December

We’ve had lots of activity in the vines on the Domaine this month, with teams of experts coming to work on three different processes, with tractors, chainsaws and trusty secateurs!

Pruning of the vines

In December Patricia, who has worked on the Domaine for 20 years, began the painstaking process of pruning the vines by hand with secateurs. During winter the vines enter a period of hibernation called dormancy. The vines shrink in on themselves and use the reserves they built up in autumn. This is when pruning happens. The vines are pruned to remove any shoots and to select the buds that will produce the next year’s growth and fruit, and to ensure the future health of the vine by maintaining a good trunk structure and good sap flow. Patricia spends three months pruning on Domaine Mirabeau. She does around 800 vines per day, so around 75 days’ work for the 13 hectares of vines we have on the Domaine.

Recepage” for better sap flow

We also had a team of seven experts begin a complicated, vitally important piece of work on our Cinsault and Grenache vines, removing some branches to ensure a better sap flow so as to increase sustainability and quality. This process is referred to as “recepage” in French.

Grafting Rolle onto Cab Sav

Thirdly, we began planning a very interesting process for our small cabernet sauvignon parcel of vines. The vines are not in good health, and cabernet sauvignon is not a grape variety that we use in our rosé wines, so we are embarking on a process known as “grafting” to regenerate the plants, and change the variety from cabernet sauvignon to rolle, or vermentino. This is a fascinating, immensely technical and lengthy process, but one that avoids us having to pull the vines out altogether. This will enable us to benefit from the old root system while we are forming a brand new trunk. The first step in February will be to clean the trunk by scrubbing the old bark in order to have access to a fresh bark …

We do the grafting of the vines by grafting a bud under the bark on the sap flow of the plant. It’s as if you opened the skin on a limb and grafted a new bone onto it, to create a new limb.

Clément, consultant viticulturalist

In last month’s domaine update, we shared with you a little about the special spray we are creating for our vines, by fermenting litterfall such as decaying leaves and forest matter. The forest litterfall was mixed with molasses, bran and whey at a local farm. The mixture is now fermenting for three weeks, and is then going onto be fermented again to turn it into a liquid. In Spring, we’ll be spraying this solution on the soil in order to improve bacteria activity and soil life.

Domaine Wine

As for the grape juice itself (the most important part of the vine!) the Domaine wine is aging on lees, some of it in oak barrels, at our partners’ winery in nearby village Vidauban.

Jeany, Stephen, our Operations Director Thierry and our oenologue Natalie have been sampling the wine. We’ll be very excited to share with you how this wine tastes, and what we’re going to be calling it, in the New Year!

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