What a worrying week in the life of UK Vineyards, or so we thought, it appears that the tragedy of a late frost has hit most of the famous wine regions of France, Spain & Germany too.
It is one of the nightmares you look out for as a vineyard owner. The wonderful mild weather we had been enjoying for a few weeks, convincing all plants & trees including our vines that Spring was well & truly in full swing, so they started to wake up and buds started bursting a great sight and everyone is looking forward to, and being optimistic for, a good growing season ready for next years wine.
Then a tragic weather report shows cold air coming down from the North and causing widespread hard frosts – this is bad for the newly burst buds, frost burns the leaves & bud – basically killing it, stopping any flowering and fruiting. The vine itself will survive and often has a chance a second budding but these are never as strong as the first budding of the year.
Here is what a lot of Vineyards across the whole of Europe would have looked like last week. Hundreds of wax or oil candles are lit during the night to warm the air and keep it moving to stop the frost landing. Unfortunately, the frosts were so harsh that a lot of Vineyards were still hit, so 2017 harvests will be hit and it will have a knock-on effect to 2018 as well. It truly is something you don’t want.
Frost protection can start before you even plant a single vine – selecting a site that is South facing so it gets the maximum light, sun & warmth throughout the day and having a body of water, a lake or river, below the vineyard will provide natural protection.
A body of water absorbs warmth during the day and then releases it as the temperature drops during the night – this released warmth can travel up through the vines keeping the air moving and keeping the temp above freezing.
This is what we have at Amber Valley Wines, at the bottom of our Doehole main Vineyard site we have the Lindway Lakes – there was a late frost in Derbyshire in 2014 the year that provided our first ever vintage, but thanks to the natural process of the lakes the temperature in the vineyard never went below zero degrees and saved our first vintage.
This is why our wine is called “Lindway White” in honour and thanks to those lakes and the protection they provide us.
Having said that, harsh frosts at -3 to -6, like we experienced last week, have taken their toll on our new buds and vineyards across the whole of Europe. It’s going to be nervy growing season, harvests will be small and extra grapes will be scarce.
Frost Burnt Vine Buds