The Vineyard Floor at 40 Knots
Wine, Wind, Sea & the Vineyard Floor
The life cycle of the grapevine can be discussed at great lengths. From budburst to harvest, the hours and energy put into vine, canopy and fruit management are extensive. Some of that attention, however, should be directed beneath our feet to the life found along the vineyard floor. This important cover crop has profound significance for the vineyard ecosystem, productivity and inevitably, wine quality. Here are just a handful of native and foreign plants, and even weeds, that help our 40 Knots Vineyard work with Mother Nature to achieve our increasing biodynamic farming practices.
White Clover (Trifolium Repens)
Chances are, you’ve seen this shamrock shape not only in a vineyard. Incredibly common in North America, this herbaceous perennial is a part of the bean family. Eventually, within its life cycle, a small white flower will draw in many bumblebee visitors, which are powerful pollinators. Into maturity, the white flower will begin to turn pink. Its ground coverage helps balance nitrogen levels and maintain soil health. If you happen upon one with four leaves instead of three, some would say you’d be blessed with the luck of the Irish!
Dandelion (Taraxacum Mongolicum)
The Taraxacum Mongolicum has been used in Eastern medicine for thousands of years, providing many health benefits. When aged, how beautiful the feathery filaments appear when caught up in a summer’s breeze. Kind of nostalgic, isn’t it? For the vineyard though, this perennial's wide-spread root systems are amazing for loosening soil and pulling up calcium from the depths. Grape vines require proper aeration and drainage to produce quality fruit set. Less is more when it comes to water!
Hairy Bittercress (Cardamine Hirsute)
This little white flower is part of the mustard family. In this particular photo, you can see the long slender seed pods getting ready to burst and spread themselves along the vineyard floor. Flourishing in damp, sunny and loose soil conditions, the vineyard is just the spot for the annual Cardamine Hirsute to thrive. It is also edible. It can add a little zip to your salad with peppery flavours, a perfect 40 Knots Pinot Noir pairing! Just like all other types of plants within the mustard family, this one is loaded with nutrients. It’s a spring weed, so as temperatures increase, the sight of them decreases.
Fescue Grass (Festuca Arundinacea)
The grass is basically the bodyguard of the vineyard, its main goal is to protect. The grass' heavy root system safeguards the soil from eroding and compacting. In the heat of the summer, it will enter dormancy and turn brown. This is favourable because it no longer competes for water. It also reduces excess moisture, avoiding unwanted heavy vine vigor.
Where this foliage thrives, so do bugs that feed our vineyard animals.
Biodynamic law teaches that everything has a purpose. With the knowledge of this, we can truly revel in the bounty that is found all around us.
“Look deep into nature, and then you will understand everything better.” –Albert Einstein.
With Spring upon us, we invite you to partake in one of our newly introduced guided vineyard tours. While you’re sipping our 40 Knots wine amongst the vines where it all began, see if you can find some of these vineyard helpers in between your feet!