While You Were Sleeping
Meanwhile, in the vineyard…
Last post, while the focus ended up being on reserve wines, the original intent was to merely relate what was going on in the winery at the moment- I know, happens to the best of us, right? This week, we will be visiting what is going on in the vineyard right now, and who knows- it might actually be about that and not how much snow we got over the weekend (just a dusting).
So, to get the scoop on what is up- or not- in the vineyards right now, I asked the winemaker (who, as you all know, I have an “in” with) to write me up a little info sheet on the winter-time vineyard. I get back a paper with words like senescence, abscission, chromosome duplication, protein synthesis, bifurcated shoots- I thought I left botany behind 20 years ago. So, with a little threat of nothing but coal in the stocking, I got a revised version written in laymen’s terms. The vines have begun shutting down (senescence) and most of the vines have lost their leaves (abscission) though a few of the younger vines may still have a few brave yellow leaves hanging on. Vines are a lot like people when it comes to the winter weather- first sign of cold weather, the older ones know their job is done, they just want to shut it down and go to bed. The younger ones are still hanging out waiting to go party after work.
With the leaves gone, we can evaluate the canopy infrastructure- did we get proper growth in height and diameter of the shoots? Did we have too many or too few shoots and did we have any that split off in two different directions (bifurcated)- any of which could indicate nutritional deficiencies or hormonal issues (see, it’s not just a female thing).
From this information, we can develop a strategy for next year’s growing season.
In the past, I believe I have stated that this is the time the vines go dormant- for the most part it’s true. They are actually in a state somewhere between sleeping (where you still have cell regeneration) and dormant (nada going on)- call it slormant? High concentrations of a dormancy hormone have built up to keep all activity at a minimum, just enough to ensure the survival of the buds and woody tissue. However, preparation has already started for the new growing season: while there is no cell division or growth, within the cells themselves, there is some- here it is-chromosome duplication
and protein synthesis
occurring so when the soil warms up and the sap starts to flow, the growing process is ready to begin. For right now, with rain, snow and frost in the forecast for the next few months, we wish the vines a nice winter’s slormant.
I would like to give acknowledgment to the artist of the partying grape leaf in the 3rd image- he is pictured asleep in the first image, though he has added a few years since then, just having passed his 9 year milestone today.