The MET Office stats say it all about March: the second coldest since records began over 100 years ago. The result on the vineyard is vines that haven’t moved much. No warmth, not much sap rising, no buds bursting. Working on the vineyard is blimin’ cold.
Tying down the vines was done by the second week of March, excluding the bottom rows which are prone to frost. (We want to delay their buds busting as much as possible.) When we tie a vine down we wrap the canes around the fruiting wire. The fruit will then hang above the ground. The goal with the Double Guyot pruning I mentioned in an earlier blog is to have a cane to the left and right of the vine.
We do this in early March before it gets too warm (!) and the buds form. Tying down when there are buds on the cane is a delicate business. You can easily knock off a bud and loose that section of fruit.
It’s predicted the warmer weather will come in mid April, which will start to wake the vines up from their dormant winter. This means we’re entering one of the most risky periods on the vineyard. If there’s any frost when the buds are out it can destroy them and you can say goodbye to your season’s crop. Remember last year when we had amazing weather in March? The buds started coming and then Jack Frost visited us in April. But we’ve a few options to help us get to the vines before Jack does… and it all starts with a thermometer which can text your mobile phone.
All I can say is bring on those small green growths that’ll turn into flowers because then i’ll feel like spring is finally here and some warmth is around the corner.