A Year in the Vineyard - April


The Valley Is Taking Off.

It is 5am and the wind machines and a lone helicopter somewhere up the back are generating the low oscillating hum of season prolongment. There have been handful of nights that have approached freezing and the valley night life has whrirrred from 11pm. A night watch, vigilant.

This is the sound of frost being politely escorted off the property.

Hovering around zero, the temperatures are none such that they affect the quality of the grapes. Generally, the fans are run this time of year to protect the leaves and thus extending the growing window. Over the season, they have hardened off becoming tough and strong adult leaves that don’t scare easily. The fans move the air around enough so that the temperatures stay above the point where the leaves get the clear message to shut down. When leaf shut down occurs a number of chemical processes ensue. The leaves signal the nutrients…….

More on phrases: the term ‘frost fighting’ is peculiar one to me. Aggressively addressing the inevitable. A seemingly dramatic phrase for a relatively passive account of a sensor detecting a particular temperature which sends an alert to the engines to power up the turbines creating an effective rotational movement far above the vineyard. I canvas for a less aggressive tone…. ‘frost discouraging’ doesn’t have the same ring. Perhaps ‘Two-dog night’ is a good enough code for the late-night business of wandering around in the dark and cold hoping those dogs are keeping the bed warm upon return.

Last night however, our frost fan is not out fighting, whirring or otherwise. It has been off the last two nights as we will be picking today.

The grapes are ready and I am ready too!