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!
Well, we knew the warmer weather had to come eventually and our beloved merlot is finally off to the races. I don’t know how familiar you happen to be with “normal” Carcassonne weather but I was telling a local that the past couple years we seem to have only 2 seasons. Sping and fall have somehow disappeared. After a little contemplation I came to the conclusion that this recent climate trend has been benificial to our type of winemaking. We have always harvested later than most in our area and this is especially true for the past 2 years when we found ourselves bringing in the grapes at temperatures between 3 to 10 degrees. We keep the grapes at these low temperatures for a few days and find ourselfs with a fresher fruitier wine. Meanwhile the slower starts we have had at the begining of the growing period seem to have little to no effect throughout the vineyard. On the contrary the slow starts have helped us to keep pace easier and have also limited the number of times we treat our vines. In the year 2009 we treated only 2 times and believe me this is well below the norm. As you can see from the photos we finally got the growth I expected a few weeks back. By next week we will need to lift the wires on the trellis sytem,which are designed to keep the growth going upward. I will cover this in detail next week. Thanks for following
The starling birds migrated south a few months ago but I never posted this. It’s so wintry and I have to prune. I wish I could fly south sometimes. But the wine is delicious up here, so I stay put.
Anyway, a few months ago, I was having a business lunch at the winery when this huge flock of starlings passed over the vineyard to fly south for the winter. But they stopped at the vines and flew back and forth. I ran out into the vines and caught some of the migration on my flip. Pretty awesome footage! What a lucky experience. The birds formed a perfect dome over me.
It’s worth going to fullscreen!