September 8, 2014 | News | Vineyards

Clearing a Vineyard in the Mosel Today: Still Hard Labor

What has changed when clearing a vineyard today vs. the 1900s? Not much if you work the steep hills of the Mosel, explains Florian Lauer.

Clearing a Vineyard in 1900 | Sheer Hard Labor

Aaron Nix-Gomez (Hogsheadwine) published a nice article on how clearing a hill for winemaking was sheer hard labor a century ago. However, how does this happen today? Is it really that different? Not really, as Florian Lauer explains.

Clearing a Vineyard Today | In Theory Easier

Florian Lauer (Weingut Peter Lauer) has developed somewhat of an expertise on this, having cleared no less than three (!) abandoned vineyards in the last few years.

In principle, there are now quite some “toys for the boys” available to help the enterprising winemaker do the work today (see the pictures here below):

(image: Florian Lauer, Weingut Peter Lauer, all rights reserved)

Clearing the land can be done with the help of a bulldozer capable of cutting through trees of up to 25 cm (10 inches) in diameter. Trench plough tractors can help one get rid of the roots, which are the real problem. If you cannot work with a trench plough, you can use tractors specially equipped (with tons of pulling power) to pull out the roots.

Clearing a Vineyard Today | In Practice Often Hard Labor Too

This is the theory. The practice is very different if, as in the case of the Weingut Peter Lauer, you do this in steep vineyards difficult to access such as the Schonfels (left) or the Saarfeilser (right). Then, you are essentially thrown back to the 1900s ...

(image: Florian Lauer, Weingut Peter Lauer, all rights reserved)

Florian explains us why: “In our vineyard in Schonfels and Saarfeilser which we cleared recently, the inclination was too steep, so we had to cut down the bushes and trees by hand. In none of the vineyards we cleared, we could use a trench plow tractor. We had to literally pull out the deep roots – granted with the help of a specially equipped tractor with special bow ties offering tons of pulling power. But that was the only help modernity gave us!”

Clearing a Vineyard in 1900 | Why Bother Clearing then?

You may wonder why any winemaker would go through such a hassle and clear such vineyards. Well, there are essentially two reasons, which are best explained on the example of the Lambertskirch vineyard in Ayl which the Weingut Peter Lauer cleared a few years ago:

We can only applaud this reviving of old vineyards and look very much forward to tasting the produce of this hard labor in the near future!

(Note added in Sep 2015: Here the first impressions on Lambertskirch wines)

Get Mosel Fine Wines