QUESTION: When visiting wine country, I’ve noticed that the grapevines have not only bunches of grapes, but also leaves. Do the leaves have a purpose?
ANSWER: You bet. In fact, without leaves, it would be impossible for clusters of grapes to ripen.
Put simply… because, quite frankly, that’s the only way we know how to put it… the leaves found on grapevines absorb sunlight.
The light converts the starches in the vine to sugars, and that kick-starts the ripening process in the grapes.
That’s why grapevines need a certain amount of sunshine each growing season in order to be viable. No sunshine, no ripe fruit. Likewise, no leaves, no ripe fruit.
The color of a vine’s leaves also can be telling. Unlike in Vermont, where the maple trees are expected to turn from green into brilliant orange, red and yellow hues, “fall colors” in wine country can signal bad news.
More often than not, bright red leaves on a grapevine mean that the vine has some sort of virus.