18.02.2022

When the winemaker is also a meteorologist

This year, an unexpected celebrant and a great helper of our vineyard manager Roman Slouk celebrates its first round anniversary at Sonberk - Sonberk's weather station. You read correctly - we are winemakers, but ten years ago, on 29 February 2012 to be precise, we had a weather station installed in one row of Moravian Muscat. Why exactly?

"I already had a weather station at my previous job, so I was happy when we bought one for Sonberk as well. The data from it significantly helps with planning work in the vineyard throughout the growing season - from pruning to combating disease or drought," explains Roman.

The station consists of several modules and can measure rainfall, air temperature (at 0.1 and 2 m), solar radiation and soil moisture at three depths. But it's not like it can predict the weather. It is up to Sonberk's viticulturist to evaluate the data correctly and plan all the necessary work. 

"We can clearly see from the measurements over the past quarter that this winter has been dry and warm. The lowest temperature was -7 C and rainfall was negligible. Such frost does not threaten the eyes, so we took this into account in the winter pruning and cut to fewer eyes. The temperatures probably pleased the bees in the orchard, but it also meant that fungal diseases didn't even notice that it was cold. We are therefore going to be more alert in the vineyard this year," Roman interprets the measured figures.

The amount of water in the soil is another piece of information that is important for the vine grower when working. Sonberk vineyard is not irrigated, so you need to keep a close eye on how thirsty the soil is and how much moisture the plants are getting. In addition to the values measured by the underground probes, another important partner and helper comes into play here: the meadow strips in between the rows.

"We have a meadow between the vine rows. The bees and butterflies like it, and it helps me to regulate the amount of water for the bushes," says Roman.

When it's wet, the plants in between the rows help consume excess moisture and protect the soil from water erosion. When there's a long dry spell, the crop is gradually cut back so that water is left for the vines. Measuring rainfall is also related to planning the treatment of shrubs against fungal diseases in case of rain.

"In general, you could say that the more detailed data we have, the better we can be at prevention and planning, and avoid crises that could pose a threat to the crop or the health of the vines in the future," says Roman Slouk of the ten years of measurements with the weather station, which he also took pictures of.

Picture of the weather station explained top down: global radiation (sunshine) meter, black cylinder - rain gauge, thermometer at a height of 2m, cabinet with control unit, solar panel to recharge the battery.

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