By LINCOLN SILIAKUS
(Note: as you can see from the soil, this post was written last winter. After a rainy Spring, the vines are prolific this year)
I was driving up the little road that leads to my house in Sablet the other afternoon and saw a fellow working in the vines, so I stopped for a short yarn.
Now that he has finished the winter pruning, the time has come for Rashid Abaiba to “establish” some new wines.
The term établir covers all you have to do to get young wines settled into their new lives.
I’d seen them planting the pencil-sized grenache vines last summer and had wondered why they chose to do it in that heat. The plants seem to have survived, though, and Rashid is now training them up to the low horizontal wire about 50cm off the ground.
Step 1: he takes a small thin wire with a loop on each end.
Step 2: bending that wire around the stem of the plant so that it also goes around the horizontal wire, and so that the two loops are pressed together, he inserts the hook of a device into the loops and pulls the device.
The spiral shaft of the device is inserted into the handle in such a way that the shaft spins when the device is pulled. This deftly twists the thin wire tight around the stem and the other wire, leaving the twisted part and loop sticking out away from the stem.
Step 3: he twists the bit that sticks out around a vertical metal stake to hold the young plant in position.
Step 4: he ties the stem to the stake further down with plastic string.
Step 5: he snips off the top of the stem just above the wires.
Photo below: the top bud will form a branch to the right of the photo, and the bud below it will become the second branch, going towards the left.