12 Apr Ploughing at Bodegas Dominio de Berzal: a breath of fresh air for the vines
With the winter and its cold weather over, it is time to prepare the Berzal family’s vineyards for the next stages. In this annual calendar, one of the traditional tasks that is repeated every year is that of ploughing the land in order to oxygenate the soil and allow the water from future rains to penetrate it. This is a job which, unlike what our ancestors suffered when ploughing with animals, is not excessively costly nowadays.
Because of its benefits for the land, ploughing is a widespread task in almost 100% of Rioja Alavesa. In the case of Bodegas Dominio de Berzal, this is done with a tractor and practically at the same time in all its vineyards, which are distributed among the municipalities of Baños de Ebro, San Vicente de la Sonsierra, Elciego, Lapuebla de Labarca and Laguardia.
The aim of this practice is to control weeds which, for the vines, can represent competition for water and nutrients, especially in winters with little rain like this one. Their presence implies a natural competition for water resources which, in the medium term, could reduce the vigour of the fruit’s development. For this reason, it is important to observe the rainfall each year, as this will determine the intensity of ploughing. If the soil is not turned now, the soil will be more compact and the use and penetration of water from future rains will be much less.
Soil management is a fundamental part of vineyard planting, hence the importance of using the correct type of ploughing. In general terms, we can say that there are two ways of ploughing vineyards: on the one hand we find the Rotabator, which beats the soil and is a more abusive type of ploughing, and, on the other hand, the Cultivator, which removes the soil, providing a gentler ploughing.
In line with the respectful and sustainable viticulture practised by Bodegas Dominio de Berzal, the latter, which is less aggressive for the soil, has been chosen. The shallow furrows made with the cultivator achieve all the proposed objectives: the soil is decompacted, unwanted vegetation is controlled, and it is sponged and aerated.
With an eye now on the sky and the thermometers, the Berzal brothers are hoping that there will be no frosts that could spoil the vines that have already begun to bud, a possible risk that will continue until around the 10th of May.