Burgundy Machina

By Richard McGeachy

Vine and row spacing in Burgundy is set by law and is totally different to what we see in Australia. The rows are just 1m wide and the vines are spaced 1m apart or less – equating to 10-11,000 vines per hectare. This photo shows how tightly packed the vineyards are!

As a result any tractor operations are carried out with equipment you are unlikely to see cruising the rows of Australia vineyards.

This first tractor is a combined trimmer and spray unit. Rather than use an oscillating cutter bar they have hydraulically driven spinning heads. The 3 wheels run down the center of 3 different rows. It’s fair to assume this reduces compaction given that 2 operations can be carried out simultaneously whilst spreading the load across 3 rows.

This photo shows an old spray unit, the tractor only straddles one row of vines.

These were the most common that I saw driving around the vineyards. Most of them had some sort of attachment for turning the soil/weeding as well as shown below.

No prizes for guessing what ‘L’OCCASION’ means…

Trimming is a major past time in the vineyards of Burgundy. Despite being just 2 weeks from harvest fresh growing tips were evident in many blocks. I suspect the higher quality (Grand cru, 1st cru) vineyards that were typically on the slopes were better able to control this growth – likely due to the greater to distance the roots had to travel to the water table, as different to the lesser quality (‘villages’, ‘regionals’) vineyards on the flats.

Judging by the maturity of the second crop (it’s a Pinot vine pictured above) the trimming had started quite some time ago and was continuing right up until vintage. I barely saw a shoot out of place for the whole time I was there.


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