Winter pruning is when we cut off all of last year's growth that we no longer need, leaving just the strongest "arms" or canes for growing on this coming year. We use electric secateurs which help us avoid repetitive strain injury - there are thousands of cuts to make! But it is also a machine that demands respect and care. This weekend we will be joined by a band of volunteers who will take all the cut canes off the trellis system for us. They are a fantastic gang - to learn more watch this video: winter pruning
So very excited - we have printed our own high quality corkscrews. This fetching butlers friend is ergonomically designed and will last and last. Excellent as a present too.
It came as a complete shock to us but dear, dear Lendon Scantlebury, friend, business collaborator and indomitable curator to our two Sculpture in the Vineyard exhbitions suddently passed away in January.
We first met Lendon when we went to an exhibition which he curated an exhibition at Kingham (2012). It was a trip eked out of an impossibly busy vineyard schedule and getting a break to look at art, of all things, was like another country. We were captivated by the sculptures, the layout, the diversity and when we met Lendon we were immediately taken by him. His hat, his smile, the cadences in his voice, his warm, lively character. His charm worked – we bought two pieces!
We immediately saw the potential for holding a similar exhibition at Bothy. This was someone we could work with and such an exhibition would help us raise money for charity and help put the business on the map. We lured Lendon to the vineyard (sculpture delivery), so we could show him round. The more we talked with him, the more we liked him and the rest is history.
2013 was the beginning of a lovely, fun, close and creative collaboration – 2 successful “Sculpture in the Vineyard” events and Lendon providing guidance and inspiration to everyone he came across. Organising his fellow sculptors – it was like herding cats, but one could not wish for a more patient and charming curator. The whole Liwicki family got involved. Richard and Sian – doing the hosting thing, but our girls also helped out – publicity and social media (Sasha), cakes and art (Zoe). It was a fantastic experience for us all.
A week before Lendon was taken into hospital we spent a morning dissecting the previous events and planning the next – for September. It was going to be better, more ambitious in terms of quality and beauty. As always Lendon was enthusiastic and positive. But sadly it was not to be. There was no suggestion that he was seriously ill. We will greatly miss Lendon from our lives. His ambition, his creativity, style and joie de vie.
Rather proud of our Christmas display - lots of lovely presents and delicious wines. Busy all the days in the run up to Christmas. It felt like everyone had gotten over the shock of Brexit and were just intent on having a good time. At least one customer declared that they were having a "local food only" Christmas day, whilst another was determined to just give locally made presents. That's the spirit! Happy New Year everyone!
After a slow start to Spring, we had a fantastically settled period over floweing (July). Late August was fine and dry and our crop began to ripen. Now, in late September and early October the weather is more autumnal. Fine mists and rains intersperse fine and windy weather, slowing down ripening. It's now a race to get the grapes ripened whilst the birds and squirrels are very interested in our crop. October harvest days have been issued to our volunteers and the preparations begin......
We were surprised and pleased to find that Wei Min He, who visited the vineyard with Sylvia Vetta, had sketched the tour he was on during English Wine Week. In between helping Sian with glasses and bottles, he sketched Ed talking to our visitors. Here it is!
Wei Min is well known in Oxford. Most recently, to celebrate the historic Radcliffe Observatory Quarter project, Weimin He as artist-in-residence for Oxford University created a unique portfolio of drawings, ink paintings and woodcut prints to reflect the unprecedented transformation of the site.
Weimin trained as an artist in both north-eastern China and Northern Ireland. In 2008 he created a body of artwork reflecting the transformation of the Ashmolean Museum and had a successful exhibition when the Museum was reopened in 2009. His work has been exhibited worldwide, including at the British Museum, the Metropolitan Museum of Art and the China National Museum of Art. He also teaches life drawing at the Ruskin School and the Ashmolean Museum.http://www.parallel-prints.com/weimin-he/nm
We were rushed off our feet getting the vineyard ship shape for English Wine Week - vines to tie down, prunings to burn and grass to cut. New interpretation boards were ordered and set up, lots of publicity in the local villages and towns. We got ourselves onto all the local listings and there was an article in the Herald. Thanks to the Wantage Herald. Also Round and About. This is what it looked like last weekend - our flowers in front of the shop in full bloom. We welcomed some 200 visitors, did hundreds of tastings and 6 tours. Had a great time.
Spring has sprung and the rabbit population is exploding with the primroses and bluebells. The rabbits dig beneath our vines and endanger their root system, whilst also making huge scrapes and burrows that are a hazard to workers and the tractor. This year, our Rabbit Man has brought a couple of furry friends to help control the rabbits. This delightfully soft and intelligent ferret should nevertheless, not be held next to ones face. Cute and effective!
Ed (below), who has been with the Bothy team for a year now, tied the knot with his wife Gemma last December.
Ed managed the vineyard whilst planting his own in East Hagbourne and also helped run the Bothy business. Gemma and Ed finally managed to get away in April for their honeymoon, after completing the winter pruning.
The first sculptures are beginning to arrive. Here is Lendon Scantlebury, our curator and organizer of artists, dwarfed by a giant fig (with two cherries too).
Lovely sunshine. We are all optimistic and excited. Masses to do.
Sian Liwicki is one of the Bothy Vineyard partners. She has worked with the UK Vineyards Association, in the nature conservation and scientific research. She loves documenting the fun, the challenging and the absurd, in the vineyard landscape.