Willow branches make for great vine ties.
Even though the vines are “dormant” during these cold winter months, there is still a lot of work to do in the vineyards.
This is the period when we face the cold to prune the vines so that they will be more productive and so that they will concentrate their vigor, thus producing richer fruit.
And it is also a time when we repair the ties that bind the vines to the training stakes.
As you can see in the photo above, we are currently working in our Monfumo vineyard, where some of the vines are so old that they have literally split into two parts. Some of them are nearly 100 years old but they are still productive and the fruit they bear is some of the best we grow. The older the vine is, the harder it has to strain to produce its fruit. And it is that “stress” that makes the fruit even richer and with more flavor. It produces a lot less than a young vine. But it produces more intensely flavored berries, thus producing better wines.
As you can see in the photo below, one of the ways that we tie the vines to their stakes is by using willow branches. It’s one of the most ancient forms of vine training. And the best thing about it is that the branches are easily obtained and are cheap (if not free). And they are organic and sustainable. If you use plastic ties, they will eventually break under the stress of time and the weather. But when willow ties break, they simply fall to the ground and ultimately decompose.
It’s one of the oldest forms of vine training yet it’s also one of the most effective. And it doesn’t have any negative impact on the soil or the vineyard itself.