This year, we are undertaking a considerable new task as we are currently installing overhead netting over 16.39ha of our vineyards. The overhead nets create a moderate microclimate in the vineyards which optimises the growing conditions of the vines. The nets protect the vines from excessive sun and wind and provide protection against hail. The nets also reduce evaporation and therefore reduce water usage.
Importantly, the protection of the nets during the flowering and berry set produces bunches with a more uniform and larger berry size than grapes not grown under net.
The varieties that we are currently covering are Autumn Crisp and Sweet Globe, both new white varieties. By reducing damage to the berries from wind and sunburn, the nets will assist in improving the productions of unblemished grapes. Under nets, the canopy growth is normally also more vigorous which provides extra protection for the bunches.
In addition to these white varieties, we are also installing nets over vineyards situated against Matroosberg Mountain, where the vineyards currently receive the most wind damage from strong mountain winds. Lastly, we are also installing nets over a young block of Sweet Joy, a new black variety. This vineyard is planted on marginal soils and installing the nets should increase growth which will result in better production and berry size.