Saturday, April 22, 2017

Fingers crossed

This week we are pretty nervous as a cold spell has been forecast for the whole of France.  Even down in the depths of southern France, where we are, they have forecast a morning temperature of between 0 and 3°C. 

So not happy with just crossing my fingers I thought I would check out what we could do to prevent any frost damage in our vineyards.  There are two options – setting up lines of smudge pots between the rows of vines and keeping them alight all night to heat the air around the vines and prevent the cold air from settling.

Or sprinkling the vines with a fine mist of water as the temperatures drop to below zero.  This system is fascinating  - the water changes to ice on the surface of the buds and releases a small amount of heat (latent heat) that protects the vine from any damage.  The latent heat prevents the surface temperature of the vine tissue from falling below 0°C.

But I can see a couple of problems on the horizon.  Firstly our 28 vineyard plots of old vines are spread out over more than 20 miles and running between them to keep the smudge pots alight all night just doesn’t seem any more feasable than setting up a ginormous sprinkling system. 

But it does make you realise what length other growers in more northern parts of France go to to protect from frost and how lucky we are down here that frost is a relatively uncommon occurrence – fingers crossed.