Faith in the Weather When Making Wine

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Country by country, region by region something in the universe has a plan for our weather. That plan we cannot control – we need faith; it plays a major role in each year’s wine harvest.

When it comes to growing grapes and making good wine, climatic influences are a big deal. Grape production is somewhat determined by them.

Here in Bordeaux where Mark and I study wine, we’ve learned a multitude of influences like climate, soil, and rootstock effect the juice. Watering and how humans participate in the process influence the end product too, as does terrior.

Original Source: 5 Reasons Why Great Wine Starts With Geography

This drawing from Wine Folly appropriately depicts weather challenges faced by vignerons!

We all, meaning wine geeks (yep I’m one), know about terroir. It’s a term tossed around with gusto in wine circles. Based on significant tossing, I loosely describe it as this:

Terrior is mediated through grapevines, more specifically the interaction between vines and their biological environment. Their relationship with the soil and its nutrient capacity, reactions to environmental contraints (e.g., temperature and water supply) and human interaction determine in part the resulting grapes. For a particular vine, these things are traceable back to a specific area where that vine grows. Terrior is a sense of place encompassing the environmental factors affecting wine.

Now let’s bring on the weather. When you have a given terroir and are depending on the weather, you hope for the best and have faith.

Last year violent weather touched many regions:

  • Italy – Summer hailstorms in the Barolo and Monferatto vineyards;
  • France – Catastrophic hail in Chablis, Beaujolais, Cognac and the Languedoc, and severe frost in Bourgogne and the Loire Valley;
  • Argentina – Massive crop losses due to four times the normal amount of rain;
  • Chili – Heavy rains during harvest impacted grape quality and resulting quantity.
Frost in Bourgogne 2016

Chablis Premier Cru Fourchaume – BIVB/A. Ibanez

Spraying the Vines – In the above picture, the vines are sprayed with water. As the water changes to ice on the surface of the vine, it releases small amounts of heat (known as latent heat) protecting the vine from damage. This heat prevents the surface temperature of the vine tissue from falling below 32 degrees Fahrenheit (0°Celcius). (Photo courtesy of www.bourgogne-wines.com)

While production was severely reduced, they still managed to make wine in these areas.

This month’s wine writing challenge made me pause, the theme: faith. It has numerous connotations, many positive, others not so much. Some are scintillating while others are neutral. With the multitude of weather variables potentially affecting a vintage, plans and faith are essential if you want to make good wine!

I have faith there is a higher wine power.

“…when you plow up a field, plant some obscure vine and try turning it into wine, it takes a lot of faith it’ll turn out divine.” – Allison, OkieWineGirl

This post is in the running for The Drunken Cyclist’s Monthly Wine Writing Challenge (#MWWC31). If you liked it, you can vote beginning March 7th.

Allison won last month’s contest, she chose the word Faith for #MWWC31.

 

3 thoughts on “Faith in the Weather When Making Wine

  1. Stacy

    Love your blog. Fun and interesting adventures you two are having. We miss you immensely and hope we can hoop up somewhere over there this summer!!!

    Reply
  2. Pingback: Savor the Harvest: Faith in the Weather When Making Wine | mwwcblog

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