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Society buyer Joanna Locke MW has just completed a two-year stint as chairman of The Institute of Masters of Wine. She is succeeded by Pepi Schuller, an Austrian, and the first chairman from outside this country. He reflects the increasingly international make-up of The Institute, whose 278 members come from 23 countries.
Our Austrian suppliers are rightly proud of Pepi’s achievement as we have been of Joanna’s. Willi Bründlmayer, who supplies our delicious Exhibition Grüner Veltliner, and other good wines, came over to the UK to celebrate Pepi’s inauguration and we took the opportunity to invite him to Stevenage. We talked about prospects for the vintage after a year of mixed weather. September sunshine is crucial. Climate change has meant that vines generally mature one week or so earlier than 10 years ago but the best grapes with most flavour are still picked late when fully ripened.
The talk turned to sexual confusion. Willi practices a method of cultivation (as do so many of The Society’s best suppliers) of integrated vineyard management. Mildew, which can run riot through a vineyard in a day, was a danger in the warm, humid weather prevalent in Europe last year. Willi uses natural fertiliser, avoids herbicides and pesticides, and uses natural treatments based on copper and sulphur.
One of the systems that works particularly well against pests that attack the vine leaves and grapes is based on sexual confusion. You hang little pods, which send out pheromones around the edge of your vineyard, and the little creatures that fly towards your vines get totally confused. It helps if your neighbours do the same.
Sebastian Payne MW
Chief wine buyer