February in the vineyard11 February 2020
“Vineyard and cellar – 1910” is a series of articles that we present to you throughout the year 2020, month by month. The articles are taken from the 1910 “Wine Trade Directory” and describe the various works necessary for the grapes and wine production at the beginning of the 20th century.
During the month of February, work in the vineyard was marked, at that time, by the preparation of plots for planting, the preparation of vine plants and planting or “provignage”.
Extract from the Annuaire du commerce des vins from 1910 :
” Plantations – February is the month when we prepare the soil to be planted in vines. If the earth is impermeable, it is not essential to smash it. If you want to renew after uprooting an old vine, you have to cultivate the soil four or five years with cereals, roots and alternating forages. If it is fallow land, it should be cleared and planted immediately. Ground that is cold and compact or that has had vines for a long time should be driven 50 or 60 centimeters. Planting on a simple cleanliness culture 10 to 15 centimeters deep is best when knocking is not essential.
Ways – Manure, soils, plowing and pruning; harvesting and storing grafts and cuttings; making grafts on cuttings and roots.
Provignage – In clay soils we plant in February and March. This operation has the advantage of quickly repopulating the holes and producing fruit from the second year. It is expensive and produces vines often not very rustic and not very hardy.”
The planting formerly known as “provignage” is the act of replacing the dead feet of an existing plot with young vine plants. Indeed, every year, feet die in the plots, for various reasons: mechanical accidents (gear), bad weather (drought or lightning) but also for health reasons (wood diseases).
Nowadays, it is especially necessary to replace the missing feet to comply with the rules of appellation decrees which impose a minimum number of feet per hectare, on pain of being downgraded from the appellation.
Picture : old postcard in Champagne region at the beginning of the 20th century ©DR