Normally, this is the time of year when the whole vineyard goes dormant. The leaves change color and fall off as the green vines turn into wood. But this year we’re seeing a lot of unusual behavior in the Syrah vines where many plants are actually growing new leaves!
How vines usually behave
This is a picture of a row of Merlot vines just a few hundred yards away from the Syrah. You can see that these vines are already dormant. They have lost almost all their leaves and have hardened to wood. Although there are a couple traces of green on one of the plants in the far left of the photo, most of the vines are ready to be pruned.
In the detail below, you really see that the vines have hardened to wood and that there is no new growth.
The Syrah’s Unusual Green Growth
Compare that detail of the Merlot to this close up from the Syrah:
Lots of green growth! New buds! And it’s not just that the wood hardens progressively and hasn’t reached the ends of the branches yet. Normally, those are newly grown leaves. In the photo below, you see the clear juxtaposition of a new green bud on a hardened wooden branch. Highly unusual stuff!
And these young buds aren’t isolated to a plant here and there. The whole parcel is showing new leaves as displayed in the photo below.
More photos of the vines in november
Why a November spring?
You’re probably wondering why this is happening. I know I was.
The Chamber of Agriculture supplied a simple answer a couple weeks ago: it doesn’t feel like winter yet! The temperatures have been so mild. Yesterday was balmy 18 degrees outside. We opened all the doors and windows. As a result of the temperature, sunshine and so on, the vines think they have enough energy to start growing new leaves again. I’ve heard that grapevines in Florida give two crops a year for this very reason. There is no winter season there!
In nature, this would benefit them because they could continue to grow through an indian summer. However we need them to take a break and build up their reserves for next spring!
What will we do?
Just wait. In all likelihood the winter temperatures will set in and the vines will take the hint and fall asleep. It’s just an interesting phenomenon and we’ll only know how it affects next year’s crop a year from now. 🙂
2011 has been a very strang vintage and the viticultural anomalies are continuing even after harvest. This is normally the most predictable time of year. Once you harvest the grapes, the leaves all turn fall colors and they fall off. The stems all harden into sturdy wood. And then you prune back before the next spring. But this year, some of the syrah vines got confused and started growing new green growth in October/November!
It’s that time of year when my RSS feed fills up with bloggers posting amateur pictures of almond trees in bloom. Well technically, the almond blossoms come out in February (except for rare occasions like 2010 where they waited til March). This week, you really see several of the other fruit trees and flowers kicking into action. Black cherries, damson plums, quince, and so on. They’re all coming back to life as the vines weep and show they’re ready to start budding as well.
So what if every blog is posting pictures of blossoms? Who am I to be any different.
My friends at Domaine Revelh (Wake Up!) in the Roussillon made a beautiful post about vine buds and flowers. The text is in French so it might be tough for some of you, but the photos need no words. A truly beautiful post!!
To achieve this, they brought some cuttings back from the field in the late winter and put the cuttings in a glass of water. The plant continued to bloom as if it was still connected to its roots as long as they kept it in fresh water and shined some light on it. Gorgeous photo display. Great idea. Please show all your vine-loving friends.
welcome to week 3 of winemaking 101. To begin this episode I would like to apologize for my often inept ability to convey my thougths clearly in writing. It has been brought to my attention that the literary skills, I aquired at U-Mass Dartmouth sometime back in the 70’s, may be deteriorating a bit. I have promised myself to make a more conscience effort from this point forward but what the hell its all about the content N’EST-CE-PAS!
OK back to the vines. There has been no recognizable change in the vines this past week, probably due to the cold weather and SNOW that I wrote about last week. I have never seen such little activity in the growth of the vines at this time of the year but things appear to be back to normal with plenty of sunshine, warm days, cool nights and steady winds.
The winds of the langaudoc region help to keep the vegatation dry which limits the risk of diseases and should limit the amount of treatments (chemicals) used on the vines. By simply following the advice of the local chamber of agriculture we seem to treat half as much, if not less, than other grape growers in the area.
But I digress, and the treatment story should be an entire post on its own. Anyway, although there was limited change visible in the photos this week, I have a strong feeling next week’s photos will show impressive growth. Thanks for visiting and feel free to comment.
note from Ryan: I was just driving back from Montpellier and the vines closer to the cost are like ready to lift wires (i.e. way ahead of us). It’s crazy what a huge difference there is between our medium altitude micro-terroir and the lower plains on the way to the coast.
This post is brought to you by my dad. He’s the guy who does all the work around here while I sit around drunk-tweeting.
fellow wine-lovers. It is my sincere intention to keep you informed of the progress of our vines from the budbreak to the harvest. I will try to be as explicit as possible and will be happy to respond to any questions you may have. We will be primarily following the growth of our merlot which is located quite close to the winery so I will have few excuses not to keep you updated. We have just finished our winter trim and I have posted a few photos to illustrate what I am talking about. The trimmings are torn down and dropped in the middle of the row where they will be mulched in place. The middle wires on the trellis system must now be lowered before the budbreak to limit damage. We have about one week to accomplish this judging by the start of growth on some of the vines. You will be amazed when you see next weeks photos of the vines.