“The wild, upper valley of the River Nidd where three stupendous stone structures hold back Gouthwaite, Angram and Scar reservoirs – huge, squat, unbreakable barriers.”
This from ‘True North’ a book about, where else, the north, by Martin Wainwright.
I copied it down because I thought it gave rather a nice and accurate picture of the location of our vineyard – ‘wild, upper valley,’ exactly. Maybe this will give some idea of why the idea of windbreaks has been much on our minds recently. My last blog described a particularly windswept Sunday two or three weeks ago. Once again we were reminded of the need for a little protection for our children.
The one course I attended about establishing a vineyard talked about two aspects of this process – one choosing the right land in the first place – too late! The second was about –windbreaks. If you’re using natural windbreaks – hornbeam, white poplar, Italian Alder, Leylandii were mentioned and since then we’ve been recommended willow, laurel even privet – all these should be planted a year before you plant your vines. Well, obviously that’s’ not going to happen. Which leaves us with artificial windbreaks. Not aesthetically pleasing but probably easier and not too expensive.
Ian in East Yorkshire* (details below) where the wind sweeps off the North Sea first introduced us to the idea at our last Yorkshire vineyards meeting. He said a company called Tildenet http://www.tildenet.co.uk/ made them and I should look on their website. Which I did but it wasn’t quite as straight forward as – oh yes, I’ll have some of that, because there were very many options, not just for size but for density. I expected netting of some kind, a solid windbreak wouldn’t seem sensible, but I hadn’t expected this. What density means, in effect, is how much wind do you want to stop and how much let through? This, in part must depend, I reasoned, on just how windy it is in our vineyard. Bloody windy doesn’t seem to be precise enough so I consulted Ian again and this is what he said.
“I have a small weather station which I use to track the various measurements, including rainfall and wind speed and direction. I used the information to work out that on average the wind speed is approximately 10.5mph, and the gust speed reached 74mph. when I looked at how many days the wind speed exceeded 20mph, I played with the various “let through” figures until I could get to limit the max speed to 30ish theoretical but overall reduce the average to 7.5mph especially at the end of the vineyard which was taking the brunt of the wind South West. I would like to have had it twice the height but the logistics of erecting something that high really put me off, so as with so much of life a compromise was made.
We have extended a hedge row which runs parallel with the planting rows, I will also look to see about putting a further hedge along the new plantings? but my time in the vineyard has been quite tight with business and getting the winery ready for this year, will re-think at the festive break.”
I don’t have the benefit of Ian’s gizmo so I’ll just have to guess. I’m thinking about 50 to 75% maybe. Having pretty much decided on this approach to blunting the wind effects and even what seemed to be the correct location for them we arrived the other day to find the wind coming from entirely opposite direction. Hmm, I thought that doesn’t help. Any decisions about windbreaks were further complicated by a conversation with my neighbour who has done great work for me, ploughing, knocking in posts, stringing wire etc. who told me about a service that the council used (they don’t any longer!) to provide. This took the form of a snow break (you still see them in a different form at the side of railway lines subject to snow), as he described it to me and I need a further conversation with him about this, they were constructed with a series of about 8 foot vertical poles, about 2 inches in diameter strung between posts. Presumably tied together somehow, as I say I need more information so watch this space but this is as far as I’ve got with windbreaks.
*We are located at Laurel Farm (Hence the name) Aike, East Yorkshire
We have now a name for it previously (and in the English Wine and Vineyard listing it is called Ian Sargent Vineyard?) we have called it Laurel Vines. We planted 2000 vines in March 2011 consisting of 700 Solaris, 300 Rondo & 1000 Ortega. We planted a further 1500 in March this year consisting of 300 Solaris, 700 Rondo & 500 Madeline Angevine. We are going to plant around 1500 next March consisting of Madeline Angevine, Solaris and may be one other?. We are looking to have around 15 to 20,000 vines in total, in production.
We are currently converting two stables into a Winery which should be equipped to handle this years small crop and the expected growth potential.