December and January saw temperatures and humidity higher than expected in Bourgogne, which have slightly skewed the cycle of the vines. Some growers even reporting that they saw “la vigne pleurer” during the pruning, a term to describe the rising sap usually usually associated with spring. This could lead to early budding, which would be detrimental if we experienced spring frosts like last year.
Cold weather in the winter is important for the vineyard in order to rest the vines, and prevent the growing season from starting too early if the winter is too warm and humid. Thankfully, the last week has seen a considerable drop in temperature, cold weather welcomed by growers to pause the vegetative process of the vines, which is both natural and necessary. Other benefits of cold weather include its ability to naturally rid the vineyards of all parasites and vermin and any disease that could be around. Snow is good, as it hydrates slowly the soil, as opposed to rain, which runs the risk of flooding. What’s more, the producers revel in cold weather with dry conditions, as it eases the work in the vineyards, especially ‘buttage’ (when one flips the soil over to the foot of the vine). This process protects the vine from harsh, cold winters in order to create a warm environment for the vine.
Overall, any twist in the biological rhythm of the vines will hopefully be rectified by this latest cold spell, and allow the producers to carry on with their important work preparing the vines for the stress of another growing season.
– Paul Miller