Mark Stacey

The Art of the Vineyard

Mark Stacey
The Art of the Vineyard

Vineyards coat the sides of the Rhine in this part of Germany. Even private houses often have a grape vine running up the side of the wall. Monasteries, nunneries and castles would usually have a supporting vineyard to generate income, and sometimes one simply used in swapping for other needed food-stuffs.

I was especially interested in how vines were grown. To be honest, I have my own personal vine at home. Bought from a nursery in the middle of a wicked winter, the vine has sprung into life and requires a degree of T.L.C! Help was at hand.

The bigger vineyards were often made up of hundreds of thirty-metre-long rows of vines. Without exception, all were supported in their growth by a technique known as the “Guyot Method”.

Two lines of wire would connect a wooden pole at the beginning of the vine row with another pole at the end. The vine’s body would grow up to the first wire and then its branches, via clematis-like tendrils, would simply wrap themselves over and along the wire. Further layers of growth were made possible by the second higher wire. The continued tautness of the wire was paramount and was the area that required most attention.

Well, the idea is certainly straightforward, and spin offs of this method can be seen in Rhineland gardens, with climbing roses impressively splaying out on supporting wires.