April is a busy time in the winemaking calendar,
both in the winery
and in the vineyard
. It's spring
in the northern hemisphere so much of the work involves either working with new wines or starting things afresh in the vineyard.
[caption id="attachment_1019" align="aligncenter" width="192" caption="Bud Break in Spring - The Winemaking Calendar"]
Spring heralds the start of the growing cycle
for grape vines. As the weather warms up the buds begin to appear on the bare stems. These will become the leaves of the vine which are essential for the photosynthesis
that provides energy for the plant. This is a critical time for the vine and what we don't want is warm weather followed by a cold snap. The tiny, delicate, young buds are highly susceptible to frost damage and a sudden drop in temperature can potentially strip the vine of most of its buds. If there is a limited number of leaves, the plant will not produce enough energy to develop good quality grapes.
[caption id="attachment_1022" align="aligncenter" width="183" caption="Wind Turbine in a Vineyard"]
Different practices are used around the world to ward off an imminent frost but the two most common are smudge pots
. A smudge pot is essentially an old drum filled with damp wood. When set alight it produces clouds of smoke which hang over the vineyard like a blanket, preventing the frost affecting the vines. Turbines can be found mostly in the New World and are positioned around a vineyard so that when they are all turned on at once, they keep the air moving, again preventing frost from settling.
Towards the end of April, as the vines continue to thrive, they produce suckers
. These suckers are what the vine would use to 'climb' if left to its own devices. Because the vine is going to be trained in the vineyard these suckers are surplus to requirement and are removed. The energy that the vine would have used to grow the suckers can now be channeled back towards the young shoots.
[caption id="attachment_1020" align="aligncenter" width="275" caption="New Vines with Protective Sleeves"]
This is also the time in the winemaking calendar when new vines are transplanted into the vineyard. They have been nurtured in nurseries until their roots are developed before being put into place in the vineyard. To protect the delicate young shoots from ending up as a hungry rabbit's meal they are wrapped with plastic sleeves. Once the vine is tall and 'woody' enough, these will be removed.
[caption id="attachment_1021" align="aligncenter" width="300" caption="Racking Wine from Barrel to Barrel"]
In the Winery
Over the winter, wine that was harvested the previous autumn may have been fermenting
. To remove the potentially harmful sediment
from the wine it is racked
from one barrel to another. Simply, wine is removed from it's existing vessel and pumped into another, leaving behind any sediment in the original barrel. Racking may occur several times during the winemaking calendar.
Spring is an exciting time in the winemaking calendar as it heralds new beginnings in many forms. Keep checking our blogs for more news about the goings-on at the winery.