When we say that in spring, nature wakes up, the vine is no exception. As soon as the temperatures become milder and the sun becomes more present, the vineyards come to life. The winemaker is then entrusted with the important task of helping the vines flourish. So let's see what working on the vines in spring involves.
Spring in the vineyards: start by taking care of the soil
After a more or less long period of cold, or even frost, the soil of the vineyards suffered somewhat. We must then help it regain its vigor, to allow the vines to develop their first buds.
The beginning of the vines
To prepare the vine stocks for winter and protect them from the cold, they were mounded. In other words, they were covered with earth. So, logically, after the hilling stage, comes the beginning stage (or loosening). It is then a matter of removing the soil from each vine , and distributing it among the rows.
But winegrowers do not carry out this work randomly. In fact, they can trust the vines to know the ideal time to work the soil. Then, when the sap, until now stored in the roots to resist the cold, rises and flows through the scars left by winter pruning, then the wine grower can begin to maintain the soil. During this stage of awakening of the vineyard, it is said that the vine cries.
Weeding the vineyard
As in a vegetable garden, spring sees the emergence of weeds in the vineyards. The plot must therefore be weeded, to prevent weeds from taking hold there, these undesirable plants which prevent the vine from flourishing. Weeding can then be done in different ways:
- Mechanical weeding, using a hoe or hoe;
- Weeding by animals, for vineyards in organic farming;
- Scratching, which consists of aerating the soil through superficial plowing which limits the proliferation of weeds;
- Chemical weeding, which uses chemicals, in strict compliance with current standards.
There are many techniques that allow you to fight against plant parasites (mildew, powdery mildew, etc.) or animal parasites (phylloxera). At the Berne estate, we favor the most environmentally friendly solutions.
Grassing vine stocks
After removing the weeds, the winegrowers are responsible for adding a layer of plants between the rows of vines, in order to stimulate the development of biodiversity and strengthen the plot.
The objective of grassing is to place enough grass so that it allows the vine to benefit from its water and nutrients, while ensuring that it does not deprive the vine of these essential elements.
Maintaining the soil of a vineyard in spring does not stop there, and wine growers must also be responsible for fertilizing the soil with green manure, pulling out unnecessary roots, or even replacing dead vines.
Caring for the vine in spring
After taking care of the vineyard's soil, it is then a matter of pampering each vine to ensure that the buds and small leaves flourish.
Budburst in May, disbudding in June
From April, and throughout the month of May, bud burst begins. During this stage, the buds enlarge and move apart, to allow the development of branches. The growth of the branches gives rise to the first small leaves.
This stage is crucial, because it occurs at the very beginning of spring, and the slightest frost can still destroy everything. The winegrower is then most vigilant.
Then, from May to June, disbudding , or deseeding, takes place. This consists of removing unnecessary branches, retaining only the fertile branches, and thus giving them all the energy of the vine.
Training the branches
Throughout the development of the vine, from the first bud to the harvest of the beautiful bunches of grapes, the winegrower checks the growth of each vine. During the months of May and June, he then carries out trellising . In other words, he raises the branches of the vines by attaching them horizontally to iron wires, or trellising wires. This helps guide the vine in its growth and allows it to evolve in height, in order to make the most of the sun's rays. Furthermore, the height of the grapes with a trellising wire allows the machines, during the harvest, to preserve the vine stock.
Trimming branches and stripping leaves
After trellising, comes the turn of trimming . Here, the winemaker cuts off the ends of the branches so that the nutrients from the sap concentrate on the grape clusters, rather than on the ends of unnecessary branches.
Then, the month of June is also the leaf- leafing period. The winegrower then goes through the rows of vines to remove the leaves at the height of the grapes . The objective is to aerate the bunches of grapes, but also to allow them better exposure to the sun. By removing the leaves, we also protect the vine from diseases, and make it easier to collect the berries.
Last step before summer: fruit set
Fruit setting is probably one of the most crucial stages in viticulture. This represents the essential moment when the flower of the vine transforms into fruit . From there, the grapes can begin to grow, and become less sensitive to climatic conditions. A relief for the winegrower.
The fruit set then makes it possible to determine more or less precisely the date of the harvest.
On the cellar side, spring is generally the time when fermentation ends, and when the spring vintages are bottled.
Spring is a crucial time for the winegrower, who must help the vines wake up after a long winter. Once this stage has passed, all that remains is to let the grapes mature , a process that will last all summer.
Learn more about vines in winter