Time for a New Year clear out…

January 11, 2013 at 12:37 am

Generally we don’t subscribe to the ‘out with the old; in with the new’ mantra. Vieilles vignes (old vines), well tended and low yielding are generally a source of pride among vineyard owners and we are no exception. Many of our vines at La Pauline and Les Six Terrasses date back to 1956 and at Saint Andéol some are heading towards their sixties and still going strong; standing proud on their thigh thick roots.

Boutinot Rhone Saint Andeol old Grenache vines

Saint Andeol (left) with its very old thick rooted Grenache Noir (right)

Yet sometimes we have to make the decision to clear a plot, dig up the vines and start anew – the vignerons equivalent of de-cluttering if you will.

This was the case recently in our beautiful Saint Andéol vineyard. Here a small plot ancient vines had either not survived the winter – over a 3rd of the plot was missing – or had become unproductive. So it was time to get the tractors in, up-root and move on…

Preparing soil for new vineyard planting Boutinot Rhone Cairanne

Preparing the new plot at Saint Andéol, Cairanne

The initial clearing work was done by tractor; not an easy job as the soil at Saint Andéol is mostly  made up of ’saffre’ (compressed sandy limestone) which is softer than agrilo-calcaire further up the hill at La Pauline, so keeping the tractor moving takes some skill!

Clearing a vineyard at Saint Andeol, Boutinot Rhone

Driving a tractor carefully on the softer ‘saffre’ soil

Large pebbles still pepper the vineyard however, which we collected by hand.  In this well draining soil ‘saffre’ the roots of very old vines have reached deep into the soil – these also had to be removed by hand.

Pile of limestone pebbles cleared from vineyard

Limestone pebbles have to be gathered by hand

Eventually the plot is completely cleared – save one or two old vines that did survive the winter and look as if they could be revived with a little love and care . Dug up vines are carefully burnt.

Old vine in Saint Andeol, Boutinot Rhone vineyard in Cairanne

Some old vines are still healthy enough to be maintained

Burning old vines when clearing a vineyard

Fire of the old vines

Finally we get to the most satisfying part of of decluttering – admiring the space you have created and planning what to do with it!  The plot will not be planted for at least two years to allow the soil to rest and rejuvenate so there’s lots of time to decide exactly what to plant.

We also get a moment to  admire another view of Cairanne village, with its landmark  church of Notre Dame de la Vigne et du Rosaire which can be seen from all our vineyard plots.

Cairane village from Boutinot Rhone

Another view of Cairanne, this time from Saint Andéol