Journal | October 29, 2018
Winter Worries (already)
The consequences of the wet 2018 growing season linger. Most noticeable are the leaves, still hanging on, but not exactly vibrant. The mountains lack their usual luster of fall and are slow to change color. Vine leaves are similar, with the top leaves now all gone exposing still green shoot tips that should be brown. This is the problem.
This year’s shoot growth did not lignify and harden off well in preparation for the winter. If the winter is a cold one there could be damage to the vines. The older vines look like they should be OK as they have hardened off well enough at the base. However the younger vines have me worried.
By design they had no crop to hold their late season growth in check. The first couple of years we remove the crop early in the summer so the young vines can better establish a root system rather than focusing their energy on ripening grapes. This year with copious amounts a rain, these vines grew with great abandon, as they were given no responsibility to ripen grapes. They never slowed down. All the vines’ energy was channeled to making new leaves rather than storing carbohydrates for the winter. The shoot tips were still actively growing in the fall, leaving precious little time for the shoots to lignify before the first frost.
Our newly planted block of Cabernet Sauvignon looks particularly troublesome, as the shoots are slow to turn a woody brown. The leaves are still on the vines giving some hope of continued hardening off, but it is just a matter of time before the first hard frost drops all the leaves and winter officially arrives.