Making sure our vines don’t freeze their buds off

by Babich Wines September 15, 2020

It’s spring, and on our vineyards, they’re preparing for the cold.

Why? Because the dormant vines in winter could withstand low temperatures, but once the buds show on the canes, a frost can finish them off. With potentially disastrous effects for our next harvest.

Budburst usually comes at the end of September, early October, bringing a time when the new growth is vulnerable and needs careful tending.

We cannot put the woolly buds on the vines into woolly blankets, but we can do other things to protect them from frosts. One thing is to keep the grass in the vineyard short, so that the soil can absorb the sun’s heat and radiate it at night.

If more is needed, we have frost fans on most of our vineyards. As the heavy, cold air sinks to the ground and pools in low-lying areas, the fans pull warmer air from higher up and blows it down, mixing it with the cold air to dilute its bite.

If that’s still not enough, we bring in helicopters to do the same job – at higher cost and potentially in less frost-prone areas not equipped with frost fans.

For the next ten weeks, our vineyard teams will keep their alarms with them. If the temperature on a vineyard drops to dangerous levels, they have to go out and brave the cold to protect next year’s harvest.

It’s tough, but next year when you taste the wine, you’ll know it was worth it.

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