The life of a vine
Question from Anita: Everyone tells you that spring is the right time to start your vegie patch which got me wondering about vines. What happens throughout the year to prepare for harvest?
In a nut shell: Harvest (when the grapes are picked) occurs in autumn. In winter the vines go to sleep. They wake again in spring and new shoot begin to grow. In summer the grapes ripen before harvest starts the cycle again.
In a clam shell: Spring has definitely sprung! As we’re shaking off the frost from winter and soaking up those delicious rays of sunshine those vines are doing the exact same thing. Waking up from a long sleep and preparing for the glorious seasons ahead!
The vines are woken up as the temperature increases and heats up the soil. This delicious sunshine kicks starts the vines heart beat by sucking up water from the soil into its root system. You might notice at this time water seeping out of the little cuts in the vine which were created during winter pruning. Buds at the end of the vine begin to grow and shoots eventually appear.
Summer is all about growing and ripening. The sunshine turns those hard balls into ripe grapes that are oozing with juice and sugar. The long and wide leaves on the vines act as solar panels to suck up the sun’s energy and grow but they also act as umbrellas to shade the grapes when the sun is too harsh.
It’s harvest time! This usually occurs in the Southern Hemisphere in February-March and the Northern Hemisphere in September-October.
The grapes need to be picked when the sugar and acid levels are perfectly balanced. It’s a bloomin’ nerve racking time for the wine maker because if the grapes are picked too early the wine will take on vegetal flavours and if they’re picked too late it’ll be jammy.
It’s also a time when the elements can do some serious damage to those perfectly precious bundles. Hail the week before harvest is petrifying because those heavy bunches that are swelling with water can get knocked off the vines and the vintage destroyed. Heavy rain can burst the grapes, losing juice and encouraging disease. Rot is rife and frost is fierce!
At the exact perfect moment the grapes are picked and the wine maker starts the process of turning those delightful grapes into delicious wine which involves crushing, fermenting, maturing (another blog post me thinks).
When all the grapes have been picked the vines start getting ready for the long winter ahead by storing as much sunlight as possible in its roots and trunk for the next spring.
The leaves on the vines begin to fall and the vine shuts its weary eyes for a long rest. But the wine makers keep working, pruning the vine and getting organised for the next spring.
And there you have it! A year in the life of a vine! And once it’s in the bottle a brand new process begins – life in the bottle!