March in the Vineyard: The Wine World’s Version of Spring Training

“I am thankful that in a troubled world, no calamity can prevent the return of spring.”

Those were the words of Helen Keller, whose intuitive nature more than made up for her lack of sight.

It was an observation that had applications in so many aspects of life, and it certainly applied to the world of wine. After all, spring is when the annual production cycle of grapevines really kicks into gear.

“Bud break” begins in earnest throughout Northern Hemisphere wine country during the month of March. This is when the first green leaves and shoots appear on the vines.

Because those young shoots are vulnerable to frost damage, night and early morning temperatures are carefully monitored in the vineyards. When the temperature dips to 35 degrees, frost-protection sprinklers are activated.

March also is an important month for vineyard maintenance. Weed control is undertaken either by mowing or the (careful) use of propane burners.

Vine shoots are fastened to the steel wires, supporting the vine. Meanwhile, another cutting operation is performed as diseased branches and excess wood are removed.

Farmers walk the vineyards to ensure that no replacements are needed for the wires, poles, tensioners or any other part of the “vineyard system.” Weak or damaged pieces are replaced with new ones to prevent structural failures.

A baseball fan might describe this time of year as the equivalent of Spring Training — the time when we get ready for a long season ahead.

The big difference: The baseball season ends with only one winning team, whereas the grape growing season ends with millions of bottles of wine — the best of which are spotlighted by Vinesse.

Posted in Wine Buzz
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