For winemakers, spring marks the transition from hibernation to awakening. The vineyard lays the foundation for the harvest and goes through important transitions, from budding, breaking and flowering to turning green, transplanting grapes and much more.

Spring is not without its dangers, and climate change is making things difficult for her. But spring is made of hard, 14-carat gratitude, a reward for the long wait, as writer Barbara Kingsolver writes in Animal, Vegetable, Miracle: Living on food for a year.

Life of the vine

As the soil warms, the sap begins to circulate in the vines. This triggers a series of events that result in the appearance of fruit on the vines.

Budburst is the first stage of the annual cycle of the vine. New green spaces are created, fed by stored water and nutrients. Small fluffy (or woolly, as the experts say) growths. As the temperature rises, tiny leaves, tendrils and clusters of miniature flowers emerge from the bud.

Self-pollinating vines without bees or wind / Getty

Every day is a step toward the next vintage, says Lawrence Cronin, winemaker at Tenuta di Arceno in Tuscany.

Vine flowers usually appear in late spring, about 40 to 80 days after bud break. The vines are self-fertile, meaning they pollinate themselves without bees or wind. Each flower carries a cluster that protects the plant’s evolutionary insurance policy, its seeds.

It’s a very sensitive period that can easily be affected by the weather, Cronin said. Castelnuovo Berardenga, in the Chianti Classico, has ideal conditions, between 59°F and 68°F, he says, with no rain and little or no wind.


If the weather stayed this stable for two weeks, it would be a dream come true, he says. Rain or wind during this period can affect flowering, disrupt pollination and reduce yield potential.

Every day is a step towards the next vintage. -Lawrence Cronin, Tenuta di Arceno. -Lawrence Cronin, Tenuta di Arceno.

Destruction, or kulura, occurs when the grapes are not fully developed. Causes include strong winds that knock over flowers or interfere with pollination, or small berries that fall before they have developed.

The shutter is not always bad. Cronin says not bunching grapes like Sangiovese often can help, as they have dense bunches that can impede airflow and lead to botrytis. But everything must be done in moderation, he says.

Management of vineyards

Wine growers and winemakers are happy when the weather gets warmer.

Spring is my favorite time of year, says Emily Faulconer, agricultural engineer and head winemaker at Viña Carmen, Chile. Sunny days, snowy Andes, the beginning of a new life. Nice weather, crops, butterflies. I love it.

In the spring, Faulconer and her team tackle planning and maintenance projects in the vineyard, such as. B. planting ground covers, removing excess shoots and sprouting new vine shoots.

In our Alto Jhael vineyard, we plant between the rows and apply humus and mulch directly to the vines, she explains. She plants native plants as ground cover because she knows the local fauna well. They have become a living, symbiotic ecosystem. You can’t get an expression of terroir if there’s no life in the vineyard, she says.

As temperatures rise, tiny leaves, vines and clusters of miniature flowers sprout from buds in the vineyard / Getty

Ntsiki Biyela, owner and winemaker of Aslina Wines in South Africa, also intensifies vineyard management in the spring. Since Ntsika Vineyards is certified under the Integrated Pest Management (IPM) system, a voluntary sustainable environmental system, emphasis is placed on creating corridors of fynbos and native succulents between the vineyards. This creates a natural habitat that attracts beneficial insects.

The hard work of despair also begins here in earnest. Removing unwanted shoots that drain water, energy and nutrients from developing fruit may sound familiar to tomato gardeners who pull out the small twigs between the stems and branches of plants.

Spring is my favorite time of year. Sunny days, snowy Andes, the beginning of a new life …. I love it. -Emily Faulconer, Vigna Carmen. -No.

In late spring, shoot growth becomes uncomfortable. The vines to be strung are lifted from the ground with a movable rope and placed vertically. Grid systems have many advantages. They lift heavy fruit off the ground, maximize sunlight and airflow, and make it easier to maintain and harvest aisles.

When vines need to be transplanted, either because of disease, age or a change of variety, gardeners do it in the spring.

Interest rate risk

Spring can be a time of regrowth, but it is also a danger to tender plants. Particularly vulnerable to late frost.

Burgundy drinkers, and especially lovers of Chablis, have seen the ravages of frost over the past decade. Vines can be injured or even killed by frost when growth resumes. Lethal temperature ranges from 26°F for swollen buds to 30°F in the leaf stage.

In the spring, some grape growers need to adjust the temperature in the vineyard to combat frost / Photo by Andia / Universal Images Group via Getty Images

In addition to the choice of plots and delayed winter pruning, the active control of spring frost depends on the temperature development in the vineyard. Wind turbines and fans can prevent cold air from wrapping around the trunks of vines.

Another tool is sludge boilers, which are oil-fired stoves with a chimney that used to be common in Europe. The clay pots create air currents that prevent cold air from settling around the vines. Modern versions include candles that burn biofuel.

Sprinkling or watering the vines before lowering the temperature protects the plant. Although it seems counterintuitive, this layer of ice protects against low temperatures.

Frosts have become more intense and irregular, which some experts attribute to climate change. Places where late spring or autumn frosts have rarely, if ever, occurred, such as Lebanon, have experienced unexpected and devastating events.

According to Faulconer, climate scientists predict an increase in snow and frost periods in the Andes near the Maipo Valley.

More snow is positive because it provides water, but freezing is negative, she said. We are in the process of improving our frost warning system so that we can respond more quickly. We have also installed systems with higher trusses.

For every foot the buds rise above the ground, the temperature rises by nearly 1°F. The benefit is significant, Faulconer said, given the low temperature limits at which frost can damage vines.

Nevertheless, spring remains a season of hope for all winemakers.

According to Biela, spring is a good time for vines to grow, both for humanity and for life.

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