Managing a fire-damaged vineyard is challenging and requires considerable review before commencing pruning in the affected vineyard. Although the requirement to get the vineyard back into full production as soon as possible is a key driver, owners should be mindful that decisions made this season will provide the basis for vineyard profitability for the life of the vineyard for at least the next 30 years.
Before pruning, a review of vineyard regrowth variability after the fire is recommended to ensure that uniformity is optimised in the future. This should include assessment of the level of trunk disease known to be within the vineyard. Further, where the level of variability is too high, then review of the profitability of the established variety and clones will help the decision as to whether to rehabilitate the vineyard or replant. If the percentage of missing and severely damaged vines is acceptable for long term profitability, and the strategies for replacing these vines is sound, then rehabilitation will be quickest means for getting the vineyard back into full production. This is based on the vigour available through having established root systems. Pruning methods to optimise uniformity of regrowth in the first season after the fire will be discussed.
If the decision that the vineyard is too damaged to rehabilitate, then strategies for replanting will be discussed. This includes consideration of fallow periods, where possible, otherwise the use of composts and manures to optimise rootling growth.