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Abby Rose

Mary Retallack & Abby Rose – The Regenerative Viticulture Series

Mary Retallack & Abby Rose – The Regenerative Viticulture Series 913 1200 Sectormentor

The Regenerative Viticulture Series

Mary Retallack in conversation with Abby Rose

The Regenerative Viticulture Series has returned! We’re bringing new conversations with brilliant viticulturists, to discuss regenerative experiments on the vines – successes, failures & learnings along the way.

We’re excited to share our third conversation from the new season with the amazing Mary Retallack (@retallackviti on instagram). Mary is an agro-ecologist with many years of experience working & applying an ecological approach to viticulture, with a particular interest in native insectary plants and their potential in biocontrol. Mary runs her own small vineyard and consultancy Retallack viticulture Pty Ltd whilst also creating and running the phenomenal Ecovineyards programme, bringing native ground covers, soil health and an agro-ecological approach to vineyards across Australia.

The Regenerative Viticulture Series are a series of conversations hosted by Vidacycle with the aim of sharing the latest experimental thinking in building diversity, resilience & soil health on vineyard land.

At Vidacycle, we create simple tools for farmers & vineyards, focusing on the importance of observation to support regenerative practices – Sectormentor is our regenerative viticulture app!

Case Study: Albury Organic Vineyard

Case Study: Albury Organic Vineyard 1920 2560 Sectormentor

Sectormentor  – Albury Organic Vineyard

Albury Vineyard is a producer of delicious wines from their grapes in the Surrey Hills – where they are committed to implementing sustainable and regenerative farming techniques, including reducing their use of chemical herbicides & fungicides, and improving biodiversity. We are proud to have supported Albury in fulfilling on their regenerative goals with Sectormentor for the past 4 years.

The team at Albury manage three sites, one is biodynamic, one organic and one conventional – all three are certified sustainable. Albury are one of the founder members of Sustainable Wines of Great Britain (SWGB), and Albury viticulturist Alex Valsecchi and vineyard manager Dominic Travers have been leading the SWGB Viticulture working group from the beginning – so they were perfectly placed to be the first vineyard to go through the SWGB audit process in 2020.

Alex and her team have always monitored many aspects of the vineyard, as in her experience this is a vital part of being as sustainable as possible; “how can you be sustainable if you don’t know what’s going on out there, and how things are changing year to year – you need data to support more sustainable decision making and optimise your farming system.”

Sectormentor has enabled Alex and Dominic to easily understand where they spend their time and save weeks of work:
This year Albury are due for their second SWGB audit. During this interim, SWGB have developed an online repository where all members can submit their evidence, making the whole process as easy as possible for farmers and auditors.
Alex shared how vital the Work Report in Sectormentor has been for their understanding of where they spend their time, and the ease of then reporting this for SWGB.
“We do all our work reporting and vineyard maintenance diary in Sectormentor now. It’s perfect for our size operation. All our spray records are in there and we can easily export whichever operation or treatment we are looking at, whether we are trying to understand something for ourselves or we need it for organic or biodynamic certification.
For SWGB it’s brilliant, we just download the report at the end of the season and it’s done. I am actually looking forward to our SWGB audit this year as I think we will be able to fill in the repository in a number of hours rather than weeks.”

Sectormentor helps Dominic and Alex streamline working together across multiple sites

Alex was clear that although Sectormentor makes the SWGB reporting much easier, the real value of Sectormentor goes far beyond that:

“The app really helps us have everything unified across the board. Before we were feeding all our information into spreadsheets, sharing that with the team, it was a bit mix and match. Now we have a unified system, where Dominic and I can both record what’s happening as we go, even if we are at different sites from each other. It will also make onboarding our new team member so easy.”

Alex also finds the reports on Sectormentor provide useful and valuable on the ground insights

“I really like that it has made life easier and simplified things for us, but the most important thing about Sectormentor is that it is not just about record keeping, it simplifies that, yes, but then it actually makes that information useful in the reports. That is so helpful.”

This is certainly a trend we have seen at Vidacycle; the most profitable, ecological and beautiful vineyards really value and understand the importance of monitoring key metrics, so they will prioritise taking the time to collect that data throughout the year whenever possible.

They can then take the next step, which is to learn from that data and feed it back into their decision making. Many of the reports on Sectormentor have been made in response to working with brilliant viticulturists, and learning what is the most powerful way for you to visualise the data:

“I think what makes Sectormentor so unique and useful is that you aren’t just making software for vineyards, you also run a vineyard and know what tools we really need to make the vineyard work.”

Alex is excited for the season ahead. They have also recently updated their sprayer and mower, other vital tools that will allow them to do their work more efficiently and sustainably.

We’re looking forward to continuing to learn from Albury’s journey, and supporting the monitoring of key vineyard metrics for audit. If you are a SWGB, Organic or Biodynamic certified vineyard, are transitioning to regenerative or are just nerdy about data and want to learn from what you are recording in your vineyard – get in touch to arrange a call – we’d be happy to chat about how we can support you with Sectormentor.

How can Sectormentor support your vineyard?

Regenerative Viticulture Series #1 with Nicole Masters

Regenerative Viticulture Series #1 with Nicole Masters 1320 878 Sectormentor

Regenerative Viticulture Series #1
Building Soil Health in your Vineyard with Nicole Masters

Nicole Masters is an internationally renowned agroecologist. Her book For the Love of Soil is exceptional, filled with good stories and very practical tools for taking a more regenerative approach. Nicole has also produced an online learning course, Soil Health Foundations, which is an excellent overview of understanding and building soil health for your situation. Nicole is director of Integrity Soils – a team of regenerative coaches who work with individual producers as well as delivering training for different organisations and advisors on building healthy soils and regenerative systems. 

This conversation with Nicole focuses on soil health as the root to a healthy vineyard. In particular we discuss the best ways to deal with compaction, how Nicole approaches disease and pest burdens, learning from weeds, and the power of doing simple tests in field to better understand what is happening. Nicole shares a hugely inspiring case study of a vineyard she worked with where a ‘soils first’ approach built profits, encouraged thriving soil life and built biodiversity above ground (find the link to this case study below the video). She shares some specifics in dealing with fungal disease, trialling alternative inputs, and using sap meters to guage the health of your plants – well worth a watch!

Nicole already uses our Soilmentor app to support her team when they are out surveying the situation at different producers they work with. We have included the Soilmentor functionality within Sectormentor to provide a comprehensive regenerative viticulture tool. We are working together with Nicole and her team at Integrity Soils to develop a new addition to this, the Regen Platform, which will help you understand what the different soil and plant test results mean and next questions or ideas you might want to explore.

Click below to watch Nicole’s session | Regenerative Viticulture Series

References from Nicole’s session

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Case Study: Successful vintner, Will Davenport, tells us how Sectormentor helps him harvest top quality grapes

Case Study: Successful vintner, Will Davenport, tells us how Sectormentor helps him harvest top quality grapes 1920 2560 Sectormentor


Every year Will found himself struggling to keep on top of everything he needed to know in the run up to harvest to ensure they got the best quality grapes:

“The ripening process is different every year and choosing picking dates can be crucial to wine quality. I was keeping data on spreadsheets to monitor ripeness in each block, a time consuming process that ended up with a mass of numbers and dates.”

That all changed once he started using the Sectormentor Ripeness Indicator:

“Thankfully that has all changed with Sectormentor’s Ripeness Indicator – trends in sugar and acid are shown clearly in graph format and previous years can be easily compared – it’s all in one place and updated as soon as new information comes in. Last Autumn it was immediately obvious that our sugar levels weren’t increasing whilst acidity levels were dropping in certain blocks – we knew it was going to rain all week, so we were able to quickly make the decision to pick sooner in those areas and avoid increased disease pressure.

Everyone on the team helped gather the data and decision making felt effortlessly responsive. The data is accessible to all the key staff in the winery and vineyard. I feel confident we harvested just at the right time producing higher quality grapes as a result.”


Know your vines #5: The value of understanding fruit set

Know your vines #5: The value of understanding fruit set 2000 1333 Sectormentor

In our Know your Vines blog series we will share practical tips on which metrics to monitor in your vineyard. This is the fifth instalment, stay tuned for more as the coming seasons unfold!

“If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.”

The value of knowing % Fruit Set

After the buds have burst, flowering is over (or almost over)…the caps are off and the grapes are beginning to form – we are well and truly into another season and the countdown to harvest has begun, yet again! In this post, we wanted to tell you a bit about % fruit set and why this a useful metric. If you did an inflorescence count prior to flowering then it’s very easy to determine what % of your inflorescences have “set” fruit.

Photo: Vines just finished flowering – fruit set just starting…


Fruit set is vital in the phenological progression of the vine, as it is the moment that the fruit actually comes into being -it’s the first indicator of how abundant (or not) the harvest might be. Knowing the % fruit set helps you to know if the vine is out of balance or if something went wrong at this point and you need to do things differently in future years.

Of course, a key factor that affects fruit set is outside of our control – the weather! High winds and heavy rain (or worse, frost), can really damage flowers’ ability to turn into fruit. But poor management decisions, as well as reduced vine health, can also impact fruit set – so this is an indicator to learn how to learn from!

“We monitor fruit set to make sure we are managing the vineyard as effectively as possible. You have to be very careful during flowering, especially with any sprays, it can be very delicate and you can cause poor fruit set. So we always check % fruit set to learn and improve our management in following years.” – Joel Jorgensen

Poor fruit set in vines can be due to carbohydrate supply, water supply and mineral imbalance. Here is a nice description of how and why from a US vineyard outreach officer:

‘Deficiencies of any of the essential mineral nutrients (e.g Zinc, Boron) can affect fruit set detrimentally.  Unbalanced C:N status of the vine can also result in poor flower development and fruit set. Overly vigorous (lower C:N ratio) or weak vines (higher C:N ratio) with insufficient or in-efficient leaf area (e.g. due to herbicide damage, insect feeding, disease attack)  tend to have reduced fruit set and loose clusters.’ (Reference)

Different varieties can also be more or less likely to set all their fruit, so starting to understand different varietal and block behaviours with fruit set helps to build up a picture of those vines over time and optimise vineyard management based on the expected fruit set. This also means you can pay special attention to any areas of the vineyard that are particularly susceptible at flowering:

“Flower set is dependent on the weather but some varieties are more prone to poor fruit set in certain conditions. When we count inflorescences, we assume 100% fruit set. In August when we count bunches post flowering we then update the yield prediction. And also determine the % fruit set so we can manage the blocks accordingly going foward.” – Will Davenport, Davenport Vineyards.

How to calculate fruit set?

Go out and do an inflorescence count as the flowers come into bloom. Then sometime after flowering is all finished, and the caps have blown off, go out and count the number of bunches. ‘No. of bunches’ divided by the ‘No. of inflorescences’ will give you the % fruit set. Using Sectormentor makes this easy:

Monitoring with Sectormentor:
Sectormentor makes it easy to record flower / inflorescence counts and bunch counts at the touch of a button on your phone out in the vineyard. All the information you record is then available as soon as you get back to the office. You can easily see the % fruit set for each block, and this is recorded year on year, so you can start to build up a picture of each block and how the fruit sets for that specific clone, variety, location. This is about really knowing your vines!


Check out 10 key metrics to monitor in your vineyard and find out how our app Sectormentor helps you record data & manage your vines to build ecology, profitability and beauty for your vineyard.


Know Your Vines #1: Soil Health in your Vineyard

Know Your Vines #1: Soil Health in your Vineyard 1701 1276 Sectormentor

In our new Know your Vines blog series we will share practical tips on what metrics to monitor in your vineyard. This is the first instalment, stay tuned for more as the coming seasons unfold!

“If you can’t measure it, you can’t improve it.” 

Healthy soils are vital in an unpredictable climate and to drive profitability for a vineyard in the long term.

A healthy soil acts as an ecological buffer, it absorbs and allows water to percolate underground in heavy rains, and retains moisture for much longer in periods of drought. For anyone who farms, mitigating climatic risks is key and improving soil health is a low-cost and long-term way to do that. Plus healthy soils means healthy plants, and healthy plants require less inputs.

To begin to understand your soils, you need to go out and a take a good look at what is happening below ground in different parts of your vineyard. After all ‘you can’t manage what you don’t measure’, so assessing soil health is vital to build soil health for your vineyard.

To help you get started with monitoring your soils, watch our short videos below on how to do a few simple soil tests and how the Sectormentor For Vines app* helps you record and learn from your results.

For your vineyard we recommend doing the VESS, earthworm and slake tests all featured here, as well as the infiltration rate test that you can learn more about here. It is always good to look at rhizosheaths as well which is shown in the final video.

*please note: a basic version of the Sectormentor app, just for soil monitoring is shown in these videos. Soil monitoring in the Sectormentor for Vines app is the same, but has additional features to connect with your other vineyard data.


Learn what to look for when you visually analyse your soil structure:



The best technique for counting earthworms in your soil sample:



Watch how to collect a soil sample in the field and see how well your soil structure withstands water:



How to log in to your Sectormentor account and analyse your results:



This is an additional test to assess biological activity, although not considered a key test. Find out what to look out for:



Here is a picture of the setup and tools you need for the infiltration rate test to whet your appetite, and here is a bit more info.



Check out 10 key metrics to monitor in your vineyard and find out how our app Sectormentor for Vines helps you record data & manage your vines for the best quality grapes.

Capturing Carbon on your Vineyard

Capturing Carbon on your Vineyard 659 353 Sectormentor

“If you want to capture carbon, you have to think like carbon!”

Check out this Short from Farmerama Radio, a podcast sharing the voices of smaller scale farmers, about Carbon Farm Plans and monitoring carbon from Charles Schembre at Napa County Resource Conservation District.

Charles Schembre is a Soil Conservationist at the Napa County Resource Conservation District, working primarily in Vineyard Agriculture. He received grant funding from California’s Healthy Soils Program to start the Carbon Farm Plan project, a scheme to support vintners with increasing soil health, sequestering carbon and improving water retention.

Sequestering or increasing soil organic carbon is the process of plants absorbing carbon dioxide from the atmosphere, and transforming it into carbon in the soil through photosynthesis. This is beneficial for reducing greenhouse gases, in addition to increasing soil fertility.

Charles is working with farms and vineyards to create holistic ‘Carbon Farm Plans’, which assist them to increase their agricultural resilience and productivity, and mitigate the impact of our rapidly changing climate with sustainable farm management practises.

In this short episode of Farmerama, he explains how ‘Carbon Farming’ works, what a carbon farm plan is and how you can monitor this on your farm:

You can see an example carbon farm plan from the USDA Napa County vineyard here.

Carbon sequestration is a win-win, right?
Yes, however, making a plan and monitoring it’s success is the challenge. The idea for the plan is to put all potential options in, and then chip away to find what’s realistic. In terms of soil health there are several different tactics he suggests you can use to increase carbon in your soil and monitor how they are working:

  • No-till: This is the practise of not ploughing, leaving soil undisturbed, protecting against soil erosion and allowing microbes, fungi and worms to do their great work building soil health. This is one of the easiest practises to implement as it doesn’t involve much financial commitment, so a lot of the farms using carbon farm plans try it first.
  • Compost: Adding compost to the soil builds up it’s soil organic matter content. The benefits of this practise are much longer term. Charles recommends adding large compost applications to soil perhaps every 5 or even 10 years.
  • Ground cover: The more ground is covered in plants, the better. If you want to capture carbon, you need leafy green plants, absorbing CO2 from the atmosphere and putting it into the ground. So those, ‘untidy areas’ of the farm, rife with riotous plants and weeds, might actually be doing your soil a favour. Think twice about getting rid of them next time!

Soil monitoring
To understand how much carbon sequestration you are achieving Charles advises you start monitoring these three soil health indicators (identified by Soil Health Institute):

  • Wet aggregate stability (Slake test): this is the soil’s ability to withstand disintegration from water erosion. You can do the slake test at home! (our soil health expert Jenni Dungait has put together a great simple protocol that she has used extensively in research with farmers)
  • Bulk Density: this is the unit of dry soil & air per unit of bulk volume. It changes depending on different land management practises. The test is best done in a lab, and involves drying a soil sample in an oven at 105 degrees for 18-24 hours.
  • Soil Organic Carbon: this is a part of soil organic matter which is traditionally measured with the Loss-on-ignition test (also best done in a lab). However recent research by Soil Health Expert Jenni Dungait has shown that the wet aggregate stability test (or slake test) above is a proxy for Soil Organic Carbon when following this protocol.

There has already been a proven reduction in greenhouse gases on several of the farms using carbon farm plans. Do you think you can make your own carbon farm plan? Check out Charles’ Carbon Farm Plan for their demo vineyard, Huichica Creek.

Contact us to find out how our app Sectormentor for Vines helps you record & learn how your soil is changing.

English Wine Week: Vineyards working for beauty, ecology and profitability

English Wine Week: Vineyards working for beauty, ecology and profitability 560 397 Sectormentor

For English Wine Week we want to highlight an important part of the growing English wine movement – the vineyards who are striving for a system which works with and for nature, not against it, without comprising the bottom line.

These vineyards are stripping back at every stage of the winemaking process: from growing the grapes in the vineyard more ecologically, to bottling the delicious product in the cellar using methods that were first employed around 6000 years ago, when the human race fell in love with wine. This takes lots of different forms, whether they are organic, biodynamic, ecologically produced, or a combination of the three. Here is a low-down from a few of the vineyards we work with to learn what they are doing to work with nature out in the vines.

(If you like your wine with minimal pesticides, chemicals, or preservatives added these are some of the vineyards you should be following.)


1.Davenport Vineyards

Photo: Davenport Vineyard Manager Phil Harris with pickers being driven back to the Cellar to process grapes.

“We believe the route to making the best wines is to work with nature and this begins with organic grapes. The fruit is a true expression of the grape variety and the soil it grows in.”

Will Davenport, Davenport Vineyards, Horsmonden, Kent

In 2000, Will Davenport made the decision to convert his vineyards to a Soil Association certified organic management system. Making this conversion can risk a loss of production in the short term, and many said it can’t really be done in soggy England, but it was a risk Will was willing to take in the name of an ecological system. It paid off, all the vines flourished, bringing beautiful grape quality and a depth of flavour which would be hard to achieve with the chemical inputs of a non-organic system.

The weeds are mown or removed by hand, the soil is fertilised with animal manure or plant waste compost and the vines are fed with homemade comfrey and nettle liquid. Most of the energy used on site is provided from solar panels, and they consider the footprint of all winemaking processes, from growing organic grapes, to recycled packaging, to local distribution. All their wines are organic and most are made in the winery with very little intervention, using a natural process. Davenport is one of the few natural winemakers in the UK: Natural wines have little to no sulphates and fining agents added to them when they are made and make use of the natural yeasts on the grapes, rather than adding in commercial yeasts.

One to try this week: Diamond Fields Pinot Noir 2016


2. Bride Valley Vineyard

“In the future I hope to see better weather and increased yields without losing quality. Being financially and environmentally sustainable is the goal for everyone in my opinion.” 

Graham Fisher, Bride Valley Vineyard, Litton Cheney, Dorset

Bride Valley vineyard produce three varieties of english sparkling, from 10 hectares of vines. There first harvest was in 2014, with bottles selling out almost straight away!. . Graham, the vineyard manager who has been involved since the beginning, is responsible for managing the vines and ensuring the wine captures the essence of their chalky soils. His vision for the vineyard is one of minimum intervention and ecological harmony.

They plant a lot of phacelia and wildflowers to increase biodiversity and attract hoverflies, lacewings and parasitic wasps which keep brown apple moths under control amongst the vines. They are always looking for ways to move away from using herbicides, so to remove weeds that compete with the vines they have an undervine weeding tool as well as sheep to graze the grass down and add free fertiliser!

One to try this week: Rosé Bella 2014


3. Grange Estates

“I always really appreciated the historical importance and nobility of growing grapes and making wine. It’s a balance of hard graft, science and an almost artistic ‘feel’ for managing the vines.” (Quote from Furrowed)

Phil Norman, Grange Estates, Hampshire

At Grange Estates, four siblings came together to create a vineyard on a chalky sloped field which had been in an arable rotation for 150 years as part of their family farm. It is ideal for the 52,000 vines they planted, as it’s sheltered from the wind and south facing to the sun. They grow classic sparkling wine grape varieties, as their soil is akin to what you might find in the Champagne region of France.

To promote biodiversity and build soil health they are currently experimenting with three different cover crops  running across the vineyard. In one third there’s a basic mix of 18 wildflower varieties which look stunning when they come out, as well as attracting natural predators for the local pests by providing them with a habitat. In the next third there is a carpet of herb rich meadow grass which is regularly mown; it stays think and dense, limiting compaction of the soil and is very easy to manage. The last third is a fescue and ryegrass mix.

This vineyard has some of our favourite residents: bees. There are about half a dozen beehives close to the vines, and the pollinators just love the wildflowers. After harvest at Grange Estates, you will encounter a 60 strong flock of sheep grazing amongst the vines. They are lawnmowers like no other, keeping the weeds down and perfectly chomping every blade of grass to equal length.

Bare soil directly under the vines encourages weeds to grow, but Phil’s got a plan for this: to plant golf course grass under all the vines, and use a mower and strimmers which can be mounted on the front of his tractor to mow the vineyard, pretty cool! Phil will assess which trials have worked well and bring a plan together which cuts out herbicides from the vineyard by 2019.

You can’t buy wine online yet from Grange Estates, contact them for more info.


4. Oxney Estate

“A sustainable and natural approach underpins the estate – from generating our own heat from coppiced wood chip through to a natural approach to disease control in the vineyard using wild herbs and plants.”

Kristin Sylvetnik, Oxney Organic Estate, East Sussex

Oxney is the largest organic vineyard in the UK. The sandy and silty soil are a fantastic basis for growing the 33 acres of vines. The vineyard recognises the value of their soil, and take many approaches to ensure it’s health and well being. Organic, green compost is added to the soil regularly to provide an environment for microorganisms and fungi in the soil to thrive.

They don’t use any herbicides, which jeopardize the life of the soil, instead opting for a mechanical cultivator and hand weeder. Keeping weeds down this way is a laborious process but key to the health of their vines and taste of their grapes. Wild plants and herbs are planted to help relieve the pressure of disease in the vineyard.

One to try this week: Estate Rosé – all the flavours of the English countryside!


5. Botley’s Farm

Hugo Stewart, Botley’s Farm, Salisbury

Finally a quick mention for a very special biodynamic vineyard, which has yet to produce any wines, but it is worth keeping an eye on their progress. Hugo and his old friend Paul set up and ran an organic & biodynamic vineyard in the western Languedoc for twelve years. He since returned to Wiltshire in 2016 and planted 4500 vines on a south facing chalky slope, all managed biodynamically. The grapes will be made into english sparkling, with the least intervention possible; you’ll have to wait until 2020 to try one of these!


It’s evident that vineyards can be a place of great biodiversity, lush havens for life above and below ground that produce a delicious fermented grape juice for us all to drink. Using technology and tools is a key part of helping these vineyards thrive, a combination of experience and good data can help to reduce dependency on chemical inputs to the vines. All these vineyards use our app Sectormentor for Vines to improve their productivity and ensure they grow quality grapes for quality wine. We’re committed to building tools to help vineyards manage their vines efficiently, to ensure their grapes are healthy and their management decisions have maximum impact. For more information don’t hesitate to contact us on

10 Key Metrics to Measure in your Vineyard

10 Key Metrics to Measure in your Vineyard 663 662 Sectormentor

After a few years working with vineyards we have drawn out some of the most valuable data you can collect in your vineyard. Tracking these 10 metrics will help you better understand how to manage your vines and optimise your grape quality and yield.

Producing great wine is both a science and an art, we help take care of the science so you can focus on the art!

Some of these metrics are measured at the level of individual vines, and others are measured on a block by block basis. Most vineyards don’t monitor every vine, but take a representative sample from each block of vines. Not sure which vines to sample? We’ve written some advice on sampling here.

The vineyards we work with use  Sectormentor to record all of the metrics featured, and visualise their progress with the trends and tools on the Sectormentor web app to build up a picture of how to best manage their vineyard.


(Bride Valley Vineyard on a frosty morning)

1. Date of bud burst / flowering / picking

Everything in farming is weather dependent. However, by recording the date of bud burst, flowering and harvest, you are better equipped to start predicting your harvest date, which is helpful when planning tank space among other things! If the flowering date is early then you are likely to have an early harvest, and you can get everything in place. The Sectormentor Phenology Tool allows you to visualise these patterns, and you can now import your weather data to Sectormentor to see how these key dates relate to your GDD.


2. Date of frosts and severity

Frost can seriously affect bud burst, flowering and harvest patterns, so it’s good to record the date and severity of any frosts. At the very least it provides context when looking back on data! Read more here.


Predicting Yield

(Grapes ready for harvest at Davenport Vineyards)

3. Counting flowers per vine

Recording the flowers per vine in late Spring/early Summer allows you to get going with an early yield prediction. It’s only an approximation, as a heavy hail storm during flowering, or persistent rain can still really affect the yield. However it’s good to do these estimates so you can start planning a few months before harvest. The Sectormentor Yield Predictor tool makes creating and saving predictions throughout the year easy – enter your vineyard’s info and the rest is generated automatically!

The Sectormentor app makes it easy to count flowers per vine – when doing a flower count, you can scan the RFID tag at the sample site you’re in and then enter the number of flowers you count on each vine for the next 10-20 vines (depending on your sampling system). ‘Sync’ when back in the office and you will see the average flower count per block straight away in your web app. Read more here


4. Counting bunches per vine

About a month before harvest many vintners count the average number of bunches per vine, which gives a fairly accurate yield prediction alongside average bunch weight. With Sectormentor you can create an updated yield prediction at this stage on the Yield Predictor Tool. Many people also measure their bunch weight over the years to get a good approximate bunch weight for each variety (see below).  Read more here.


5. Bunch weight (kg/vine)

Bunch weight at harvest is a key part of any yield prediction program. One important goal of recording bunch weight at harvest is not to predict the yield that year, but to provide an average bunch weight to help with yield prediction in subsequent years. Careful collection and maintenance of bunch weight records from year to year is pivotal to optimising your yield estimation. Proper record keeping will also give the you a good sense of the variation related to climatic conditions. Read more here


Managing Harvest

6. Measuring grape sugar

Almost all winemakers use a refractometer to help them determine when to harvest. You can either use a refractometer that gives you an Oeschle reading or a Brix reading. Both scales indicate the sugar levels in the grape.

The Sectormentor Ripeness Indicator Tool makes it really easy to visualise the ripening of all your grapes. After you’ve entered your readings you can track the pH, sugar and acidity of your grapes, and notice the pattern of your vineyard. Graphs showing grape sugar over time are not linear – so we know it’s useful to be able to track this process visually, and really helps when deciding when to harvest! Read more about the Sugar:Acid ratio here.


7. Measuring titratable acid (TA)

Acid has an arguable optimum level of 6-9 g/L for reds/whites and 11-13 g/L for sparkling. It’s time to harvest when the acid comes closest to these optimums at the same time that sugar comes closest to optimum level of around 22 Brix. In many cases optimums are not be reached, so there are other rules of thumb for judging readiness of harvest (use Brix:TA Ratio). As Will Davenport told us “Many UK vineyards pick sparkling wine grapes at higher levels than this in years when grapes struggle to ripen.” Read more here about titratable acid readings here. 

The Sectormentor Ripeness Indicator Tool makes it easy to visualise the acid levels of all your grapes. After you’ve entered your readings you can immediately observe the ripening patterns of your vineyard.


Optimising Yield

(Harvest time at Davenport Vineyards)

8. Pruning weight per vine / Cane no. at pruning

Mid-winter is an important time for pruning vines in the UK. If you record the weight of material pruned off each vine and the cane number at pruning time, then you can work out the weight of each cane and understand each vine’s vigour.

The Sectormentor Vine Health Indicator tool allows you to immediately visualise the vigour and health of your vines once you’ve entered your pruning weights and cane numbers. Assessing vigour allows you to determine how many buds per vine you want to prune to. If you have high vigour (or heavy canes), then you can prune for lots of buds to try to manage lower leaf growth. Some vineyards choose to record no. buds per vine as a clear record (and good check) of what actions were taken in the vineyard.

The pruning weight measurement is also used as a guide to whether the vineyard needs more nitrogen applied (compost/manure in organic systems) and is often a better indicator than soil analysis. Read more here.


9. Kgs picked

Everyone wants to know their yield. It’s important to know the total amount picked as your harvest weights can inform pruning techniques, and how you care for your vines going forward. If you can keep collection trays from different blocks separate when harvesting, and count them separately, then you can better understand how an individual block is doing and adopt management techniques accordingly.Read more here

The Sectormentor Harvest Tool allows you to monitor your harvest in real time, and measure up your yield predictions to the reality of that season. After harvest, you can use the tool to reflect on which blocks yielded higher, and decide on your management going forward.

10. Actual number of vines per acre: record dead/missing vines

At the end of each season it’s important to record the number of dead or missing vines in each block. This allows you to calculate the actual number of vines per acre in a block, rather than the number that were originally planted – just 5% missing vines can skew all other predictions. This number is key for yield predictions!

Will Davenport sums it up nicely,

“A vineyard manager / owner can never have too much data, both current year data and historical data, to assist in making decisions and predicting the next 6 months. The normal problem is that collecting and maintaining data can be very time consuming, and that is where Sectormentor helps – it makes it much faster, tidies everything up and allows me to look up things that the vineyard manager has measured.”

You can visualise the number of dead / missing vines in the Sectormentor Vine Health Indicator.

If you would like to find out more about using Sectormentor for your vineyard, please don’t hesitate to get in touch for more information, or subscribe directly here.

Special thanks to Will Davenport for his helpful advice on these metrics.

Knowing what works on your vineyard: Trends

Knowing what works on your vineyard: Trends 985 680 Sectormentor

We always aim to make Sectormentor as customisable as possible, to empower you to record what you’re interested in, and find the results you’re looking for in the Trends section.

We’ve created several tools to make visualising your vineyard trends and patterns easier:

– The Ripeness Indicator Tool for monitoring your grapes in the run up to harvest.
– The Yield Predictor Tool which automatically converts your flower and bunch counts into yield predictions.
– The Vine Health Indicator for monitoring your pruning weights, crop load, and vigour.
–  The Harvest Tracker for keeping track of your harvest as it adds up and comparing to yield predictions.
– The Phenology Tool to view and compare key phenological dates between seasons (you can now import your own weather data to Sectormentor to see how these key dates relate to your GDD).

Sometimes however, there may be extra details you want to track that are more specific: does one rootstock have higher bunch counts than others? Does this clone have more flowers than average? When you want to take a more detailed look at your vines, the ‘Trends’ section on Sectormentor can help… The examples in this blog show how many different variables can be plotted against each other over different timeframes. We want to ensure you can get the insights you want for your farm!

Average bunches per vine per variety


This graph shows the average bunches per vine for several different variety. You can see immediately see which varieties are performing better in this metric!

Number & Severity of Frosts for each Variety

This graph shows the frequency (height of the bar) and intensity (colour) of frost across each of the different varieties in the last year at Davenport Vineyards. The frost hit hardest the Bacchus New, Chardonnay 9, Ortega New, Pinot Noir Redmoors and Siegerriebe New.  The team discussed that it would be interesting to overlay this graph with yields and see just how much the frost affected yields – this knowledge will be invaluable if heavy frosts hit again in future years.

Shoots per vine for each Variety

This shows the average number of shoots per vine per variety for one year at Davenport Vineyards.