Vineyard in winter

We are in the last weeks of winter and soon vineyards will begin their warm weather cycle. They have not been idle the past cold months.

Winter is just as important to the health of a vineyard as warm seasons. Autumn’s gradual tilt away from the sun triggers a response that is equivalent to humans getting sleepy. As temperatures drop further, vines move to a state equivalent to human REM sleep.

The period of rest from late fall through winter is vital to vine health. A slowed metabolism allows vines to stockpile carbohydrates, which will be important when vines transition into spring.

Winter also is the time humans tend to vineyard health. Typically, when the last leaves fall, grape farmers begin pruning—trimming back some of the prior year’s growth and shaping vines for growth and training to structures. Winter pruning also prevents the spread of vine trunk diseases.

Winter gives grape farmers a better opportunity to evaluate vine health. Symptomatic or dead vines are easier to spot on bare vines. Winter cold reduces insects, including those that transmit Pierce’s disease.

Late fall and winter also is a time when many wine growing regions receive much of their annual precipitation. Some will be rain or snow on the vineyards themselves that will soak into the earth. Some will be snowfall in nearby mountains that will become meltwater used for irrigation.

As the weather warms, wine vines will begin to wake up, ready to produce their magic after a welcomed winter slumber.

Tasting notes:

• Codorníu Clasico Rosado Cava: Delightful, tasty. Red fruits with touches of citrus to add drama to the finish to this bubbly. $9-11 Link to my review

• Domaine Bousquet Chardonnay, Tupungato, Mendoza 2018: Delivers excellent, easy drinking, straightforward chardonnay at very nice QPR (quality-price ratio). $10-13 Link to my review

• Four Vines Winery The Form Chardonnay 2017: Ideal cocktail wine sipped at a soirée of happy women. $18-20 Link to my review

• Symington Quinta da Fonte Souto Branco 2018: Superb fruit, marvelous mouthfeel. Delicious. Round. Smooth. $25 Link to my review

• Black Stallion Estate Winery Sauvignon Blanc, Napa Valley 2019: Excellent example of what Napa can do with grape not immediately identified with Napa. $25-30 Link to my review

• Frescobaldi Pomino Benefizio Riserva 2017: Rich, impressive Tuscan chardonnay from winery with more than 150 years of experience with the variety. $25-34 Link to my review

• Louis M. Martini Cabernet Sauvignon Napa Valley 2016: Powerhouse play with all the bells and whistles you look for in a serious Napa cab. $40 Link to my review

Last round: What did the wine vine say on Saturday, March 20, the first day of spring? What a re-leaf.