Vineyard update March 2018 - My 3D Vines

As you can see in the image above, there has been quite a bit of snow in Champagne recently. Our winemakers at Champagne Fresne Ducret enjoyed the blanket of snow by building snowmen with their three children. This is in stark contrast to our Kahurangi Estate in New Zealand where the sun is shining down on the vineyard, while our winemakers are enjoying record high temperatures.

Our vineyards in France and Tuscany are (hopefully) experiencing the last of the winter weather and similarly to ourselves in England, they are ready for some spring sunshine!  You may wonder what happens in a vineyard during winter but even though the vines are dormant the work for our winemakers has continued. As you read this, much of the winter work of pruning the vines will have been done in the vineyards by our winemakers in France and Italy. Soon the sap will be rising! In New Zealand they will be cleaning barrels and vats in readiness for the imminent harvest. And so the annual cycle of making wine continues around the globe…

In the last couple of vintages in both France and Italy the winemakers have had to contend with savage April frosts, random outbreaks of hail, and fierce summer heat, resulting in the smallest crop for more than 50 years in 2017. They will certainly be wondering what awaits them in 2018.

In the above image you can see an example of the efforts many of our winemakers have to make against the frosts. Some winemakers light candles or small, oil-fired heaters, placed amongst the vines to help raise temperatures. However, you need hundreds of these and they are more effective against ground frost, but less so against air frost. Read more about frosts in the vineyards here. 

When pruning this year, the winemakers will be taking into account what happened to the vine last year and they will also be looking ahead to 2019 as well. It’s a complicated task! Last year some of the vines were severely damaged by frost. Therefore pruning hard, removing much of the weaker wood, will help revive and strengthen the remaining canes.

Postponing pruning to a later time will help suppress bud break. This is crucial because during the last two years, late spring frosts damaged the young buds and killed them off. This resulted in less grapes per vine and hence less wine being made… a bad thing for us and a bad thing for the winemaker! If pruning is delayed, then hopefully bud break can occur when the threat of frosts have all but gone. But in an uncertain and volatile climate, this may not be a given.

On a more positive note, some of the best quality wines can be produced from smaller yields. We at 3D Wines, as well as our Partners, are eagerly awaiting the results of the 2018 harvest! Until the next update…


Andrew Bennett