Joel, was born and raised on a family vineyard in South Africa, where he earned a BSc in Viticulture & Pomology from Stellenbosch University. Intrigued by the UK wine industry, he moved to the UK in 2011 and began his UK journey managing an organic vineyard in Hampshire. Joel has since provided precision vineyard management across the sector and consulted to some of the top UK vineyards.   

What does achieving optimum vineyard balance mean to you?

One of the favourite elements of my role at Vinescapes is helping clients achieve optimum balance in their vineyards, especially when we start, at pre-planting stage. Getting it right from day one by using our VineMap tool to accurately map and project a field’s climatics and have a good look at the soil life fundamentals before deciding on the next steps. Selecting appropriate clones and rootstocks is always an interesting and exciting conversation with clients, where we can marry up the sites capabilities with their wine style goals. Once the vines are in the ground, it’s always a pleasure to provide precision vineyard management to clients so we can continue to bring the vines to fruition.

What gets you excited about a day in the vineyard?

Managing a vineyard is never predictable; each season, field, and vine presents unique challenges, which keeps it both interesting and exciting. I’m really enthusiastic about how rapidly we are realising true soil health and how it can affect vine health and wine quality. I’m passionate about pruning – reading a vine’s history, carefully sculpting it to optimise yields and quality with minimal damage, is incredibly fulfilling.

How do you approach soil and vine health?

We have certainly noticed that sites where we have achieved great soil health are seeing much better vine health. We start by looking closely at the soil structure, then performing various soil tests. We then start the journey of recovery straight away which can involve things like introducing specialised cover crops, reducing tractor passes, less mowing, re-evaluating machinery choices etc.

What does vine balance mean to you?

A truly balanced vine produces an optimum crop load each season, without major peaks and troughs and always meets the desired quality parameters, no matter the weather! A balanced vine has all the desired ratios of physical properties such as roots to shoots, old wood to annual wood, fruit to pruning weights, leaf area to fruit weight and so on. With every site being unique, the key to delivering great grapes is getting to know your site and your vines and discovering exactly what those optimum ratios are, then aiming to manipulate your vines with those targets in mind.

How do Vinescapes support UK vineyards?

Our key strength is our understanding of sustainability in every sense of the word. Ensuring each vineyard we plant and manage is not only sustainable from an environmental perspective, but also financial. We go to great lengths to help our clients create sound wine businesses with vineyards planted in optimum locations to deliver the best quality wine.

I’m extremely proud of the expert team we have at Vinescapes and I’m excited to continue our support of UK viticulture, as it develops over the coming years. If you would like more information in relation to Vinescapes precision vineyard management, vineyard establishment or our other services, please get in touch.