October in the Vineyard: Harvest Concludes

“I’m so glad I live in a world where there are Octobers.”

That quote is attributed to L.M. Montgomery, author of “Anne of Green Gables.”

Anyone driving in New England or any other place where the leaves on the trees exude brilliant hues of red, orange and gold certainly would agree with that assertion.

So would fans of college and pro football, a sport defined by having a little “crispness” in the air. Even non-football fans enjoy getting their sweaters and scarves out of storage.

Of course, October is pumpkin season, featuring everything from carving contests to those ubiquitous pumpkin spice lattes.

It’s also a magical time in the wine-growing regions of America, as the harvest season — which began back in August with early-ripening varieties destined primarily for sparkling wines — enters the home stretch with the last of the late-ripening varieties being brought in.

That’s a relief for the pickers who perform back-breaking work in cutting the grape clusters from the vines, then carefully place them in buckets or bins for transport to the winery crushers.

But the farming work isn’t done yet. Once the last of the fruit is harvested, it’s time to plant a cover crop between the rows for cultivation in the spring.

Many types of plants can be used as cover crops, including grasses, cereals, legumes and mustard. Their purpose mainly is to suppress weed growth, limit soil erosion (especially in vineyards planted on slopes) and reduce evaporation.

Think of October as the transition month in the world of wine: the end of one season, and the beginning of another. For wine drinkers, we’re so glad there are Octobers.

Posted in Editor's Journal, Wine Buzz
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