Summer Among the Vines Pt.1 – Flourishing Flowers
Before wine, we need grapes. And before grapes, we need flowers. In fact, flowering is one of the most important phases of the 18-month process of growing a grape that’s ready for us to harvest. It’s an exciting time for our team as we watch the new crop start to flower. Nothing beats wandering between the vines on a hot summer’s day, hearing the cicadas sing and knowing that nature is hard at work.
However, flowering season can be a nerve-racking time for our viticulturists, as what happens from now helps determine the size, quantity and quality of the grape crop come harvest. Every Vineyard Manager wants an even Fruit Set (when the fertilized flowers develop into a grape and then turn into bunches) as this prevents fungal infections and diseases on the grapes - it also ensures the grapes grow evenly and perfectly for optimal ripeness…no pressure!
To trigger the transformation from buds to flowers, it takes consistent average daily temperatures of between 15-20°C (59-68°F). If it’s too cold in spring, or there’s not enough sunlight, it can impact the number of flowers — which in turn impacts the number of grapes we have to harvest for our next vintage. And cold temperatures or heavy rain during the flowering period can cause what we call shatter, where we lose flowers. If that occurs, we don’t grow such tightly packed clusters of grapes, which isn’t ideal, as it can lead to inconsistent grape size.
For all of their importance in the process, once they’ve announced their arrival and put on their show, the grape flowers only stay around for about 10 days. But during this time, something pretty magical happens.
Unlike other plants, bees don’t have to buzz about in the vineyard to get the job of pollination and fertilization done. Grapevines are hermaphroditic (they possess both male and female organs) so as long as they’re kept safe from extreme weather and pests or disease, they can manage the job of turning flowers into grapes (or berries, as they are properly known) all by themselves!
The vineyard never looks prettier than when our vines are in full flower. But there’s also something ugly lurking at this time of year too...an abundance of weeds. They love the same conditions as our vines. Check out our next blog to see how we keep them under control!