Thursday, February 15th, 2007...6:16 pm

Why Pinot Noir?

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Pinot Noir is a particularly difficult grape to grow and it is surprising to some that it works for us here in Kenya. The vineyard is situated south of the Ngong Hills, on the edge of the Rift Valley.

ngong-hills.jpg

 

Looking north towards the Ngong Hills from the edge of the Rift.

 

Why does Pinot Noir work for us? We think it is because the vineyard is at 6,300 feet (1920 meters) which means that we have cold nights, sometimes as low as 8 to 12 degrees celcius although more normally 17 to 18 degrees celcius. The mornings can be cold and often misty.

vinyard-early-morning.jpg

 

Cold and misty mornings at altitude make perfect growing conditions.

In addition the vineyard is planted on a west facing slope, and on rocky terraces running across the hill so that each line of vines gets maximum sunshine during the day and is sheltered from the strong winds that blow predominantly from the east. Afternoon temperatures are high, sometimes 35 degrees celcius. Infact our vines have sometimes suffer from sunburn particularly after a suphur treatment to control powdery mildew. We are on the equator here and so our daily sunshine hours are close to 12 hours all year around. We don’t have the long summer evenings that I have enjoyed very occasionally in Europe at in the summer months.

If we plant the same vines on the top of the hill without the slope and where there are quite strong winds from the east they dont work. It is too windy and the grapes dont ripen to satisfaction due to the lower sunshine levels because there is no slope and terracing.

4 Comments

  • James Thuo Njuguna
    July 23rd, 2009 at 11:57 am

    I have been sweetly surprised reading this blog about your vineyard. I just bought a vine Vitis “Regent” from a German shop and hope plant to Nkoro near Kiserian in September (hopefully it rains). I want to create a canopy for my Patio. I hope you will let visit you farm to learn a few tricks in the future.
    James

  • Am a small scale farmer from Kangundo district, Kenya ,Africa currently doing small scale farming on my seven acre land as my secondary activity. As I was going through the web looking for information about vineyards since I want to setup one,I came across Zabibu.org and found it being very informative and encouraging as far as grape farming is concerned.
    Currently have placed close to 1000 papaya,200 bananas and 500 mango trees on a piece of land which has been a strategic plan for five years Nov,2007 running to Nov 2012 when I expect to do evaluation.

    This being a noble initiative I intend to venture in grapes planting for at least 2 acres so as to venture in wine and juice processing in the near future depended on my yields since much can go to waste as we source for stable markets.

    My point of communicating to you was to ask if possible to share with me or even allow me to your vineyard on a fact finding mission which can be of great help as far as grapes farming projects are concerned since am ready to put up a vineyard on my piece of land.

    This project will also create awareness and sensitivity of the relationship between land use ,environment and Innovative Agriculture Approaches.
    I will be grateful for your anticipated reply soonest as I set a pace towards a positive social position.

  • Dear,

    I was very pleased to discover some people realising similar dreams as mine.
    I’m an artisanal wine grower from Belgium and I’ll be traveling to Kenya in August in order to start up a small size development project in Nyanza Province.

    Actually I’m growing Syrah and Merlot in greenhouses in the suburbs of Brussels.
    If we can be of any help for you whenever you need any kind of information, we’d be glad to assist you in finding scientifical answers to any kind of questions.

    Best regards,

    Ronald Verlé
    4 Creola NPO

  • I have a farm in the Molo area and have been contemplating experimenting on a small vineyard to see what variety is best. Having had an opportunity to visit the Wine country in Sonoma Valley (California) and some Vineyards in Surrey (UK) I truly got the wine bug and keen on pursuing this further. I would imagine the cold weather condition would almost certainly suit the Pino noir variety in the Molo area .Any suggestions/encouragement for newbie’s like me?

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