While the southern hemisphere is ending the harvest, the vines further north are slowly waking up after a well-deserved winter rest. At the end of February, the winegrowers were able to observe the vines weeping, indicating the start of a new cycle. But in fact, what is the cycle of the vine?
The weeping vine? Yes, here is the explanation: in mid-November, the sap reaches the trunk and roots and the vine begins its dormancy. It is also the moment for the winegrowers to prune, to allow adjustment of the yield and to limit the excessive growth of the vine. When temperatures rise in spring, the sap gradually rises to the ends of the twigs: to pruning wounds. We thus see droplets of sap appearing: the vine weeps.
At the beginning of March, the first buds timidly emerged from the tip of their nose. Approaching, we see a cotton wooly appearance at their ends: this is the downy cover, it serves as protection for future bunches and leaves. About 1 month after the tears, the downy cover will come out and the protective scales of the buds will separate to give way to the first leaves: this is called budding. Each bud will give a branch, on which the leaves will develop and when it is productive: some grapes!
Until the end of summer, the vine is growing. In May, we will be able to observe the first flowers appear, with a fresh and delicate scent. Later, in June, the flowers wither and fall, the fertilized egg will give birth to the grape: it is the fruit setting. The still green berry will gain volume and develop until mid-July, start of the veraison. The berry will soften and start to change color: from green to translucent for white varieties and from green to rosé then blue-red to black for red varieties. The next step is ripening: the berry will accumulate sugars and decrease its acid reserves.
When a certain balance is reached between sweetness and acidity: the grapes are ripe and the harvest can begin! SDepending on the grape varieties, we will have more or less long maturation, as for example with Barbera from Italy or Blaufränkisch from Austria which will be harvested more later. After the harvest, the leaves will turn red, then fall. You can guess the rest ... the vine is at the end of its cycle and will gradually fall asleep for its winter rest.
winegrowers accompany the vine throughout its cycle. After winter pruning, the vine will be tied in spring to ensure its maintenance and facilitate its development: this is tying. The twigs should then be lifted, then staked and raised to separate the different twigs and allow them to be the most exposed to the sun. Yield and growth management work will also be added, such as disbudding in the spring where non-fruiting buds are removed to limit vegetative growth or even trimming and topping which remove part of the twigs and leaves to promote sunlight and limit the risk of disease.
Tillage, weed management and disease protection are also part of their daily lives. The vines need care more or less frequently depending on the region and the climate. It is also a matter of choice of the winegrower who will determine his technical itinerary by combining a multitude of aspects, such as: his quality objectives, his convictions, or the weather conditions of the vintage.
The winegrowers presented at Wine Explorers have a common philosophy: to guide the vine to allow the expression of its full potential. The vines are cultivated in a manner that respects the environment, always with a search for balance in the creation of great wines.