The South African vineyard landscapes: impact on long term cultural practices

This paper follows the one presented by Saayman at the International Symposium on Landscapes of Vines and Wines in the Loire Valley during July 2003. Where Saayman’s paper described the heritage and development of South African vineyard landscapes, this one focuses on how the landscape is used to assist in decision-making concerning the most important long term practices.
The diversity of South African vineyard landscapes, especially those in the Western Cape, prevents the application of recipes in vineyard practices. In this region, viticulture is practiced on coastal plains, undulating foothills and mountain slopes ranging from below 10m to above 500m altitude. These variations occur over short distances, frequently within one kilometer. A huge variation in soil type and exposure to sea breezes further increase the complexity of the landscape. Evidently the choice of rootstock and scion cultivar is critical and frequently situations are found where more than one rootstock and certainly more than one scion clone must be used in the same block.
Clearly, it is very difficult to create homogeneous vineyard blocks in this diverse landscape. Examples are presented of how to define vineyard block boundaries. Cool sea breezes during summer are responsible to prevent excess leaf and berry temperature increases. The choice of row direction is an important decision to utilize this beneficial wind effect, and where possible SW-NE row directions are used.
To create vineyard blocks on varying soil types is difficult. An important tool in this regard is to stadardise on the distance between rows and to vary the distance between vines in the row according to the vigour potential of the soil. Examples of this, as well as how the landscape affects the choice of the trellising system, are presented.

Authors: E . Archer

Lusan Premium Wines, P O Box 104, Stellenbosch

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