Burgundy in March March 23rd, 2020

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Blackthorn in Flower

The blackthorn is out, and with it the risk of a blackthorn winter: the wind has just moved round to the north and we are expecting morning frosts for the next few days. Will it be the same in the vineyards? And have the vines reached the stage where they might be in danger?

The winter has been exceptionally mild, and much wetter than last year. At least the rain has been a real benefit in replenishing the water table, but the mildness means that once again the vines are starting their growing cycle dangerously early – especially the chardonnay which is more precocious than pinot.

So fingers are being crossed. It is unlikely to be possible for the straw burning protection method to be possible this year. But many more producers have invested in the ‘bougies’ which protect the vines by delivering enough warmth to bring the temperature above freezing. I hear however that if there is enough wind they can themselves do damage by scorching the nearest vine.

Most wine businesses have closed their doors for the time being, but at least as of this moment, work continues in the vineyard. I dread to think what happens if that becomes no longer possible. The last pruning needs to be finished and the shoots tied to their wires. Later on, the wires will need to be lifted and the canopy managed, with debudding and other essential qualitative practices.

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