Monday Musings: The Vineyard Year

New Year’s resolutions for this year are about planning and being present in the moment. I find that planning a week’s activities or a month or a year makes achieving them that much easier. The same is true of a vineyard. Vineyard activities are planned and take place according to a calendar. Of course, they are always unforeseen challenges and weather but on the whole, a calendar year is set. Today’s Monday Musings is about the vineyard and what happens in Winter. The photo above is obviously not taken during the Winter but when the vineyard is in bloom. Many people think that the vineyard in Winter without leaves is dormant but we know that is not the whole story. Both people and plants are busy even in the early months of the year in the vineyard. During these months and I am talking about the Northern hemisphere, pruning takes place, a signature planning activity in a vineyard.

We study pruning for a very short time in most wine classes but it is essential work in order to clear away the choices made in the previous year and to select the new canes and buds for the coming year. It also has everything to do with the health of the vineyards. I learned a lot about pruning when working as a translator for two super pruners – Marco Simonit and Pierpaolo Sirch, I had no idea it could be such an exciting topic. Apparently they are launching an online program about vine pruning. I look forward to learning more about when that is taking place. In the meantime, the Wine Scholar Guild is launching a blog series with a webinar about the Vineyard Year which I also watching. The blog post is very informative and the series promises to be as well.

While above ground vineyards in winter may seem dormant, below ground they are working hard during these Winter months.

What else is happening in Winter in a vineyard? Workers are clearing the wood from the previous harvest that lies in the fields, mending fences and fixing what needs to be done. Depending on the area of the vineyard, meaning where in the world it is located, work will be done on the soil and perhaps the plants will be covered with netting to shield them from frost and hail.

Again, depending on where the vineyard is located, cover crops may be planted. These crops are often planted to both compete with the vines for nutrients and also to add life to the soil. Fava beans, snap peas, root vegetables and other cruciferous vegetables and greens are all able to planted in January in many climes.

Other items which take place in the cellar are racking and if grapes have been dried, often pressing of these grapes.

In terms of biodynamic farming, I wasn’t able to find any preparations that are done in January. Certainly no expert on this topic, I did find this winery which had a very easy to understand explanation of the intersection of biodynamics, the lunar calendar and the vineyard lifecycle.

I look forward to thinking and writing about these topics throughout the year and reading more about it all as well. Happy New Year.

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