Hunter Valley Wine & Food Month
With two whole weekends left of Wine & ...
After the frantic activity of harvest, as temperatures drop and the bare vines rest peacefully in the hills and valleys, you may wonder how the teams in the wineries keep themselves busy. Well…
The onset of cold weather triggers a period of dormancy for grapevines. During this time, valuable carbohydrate reserves, which began to develop through photosynthesis (a biochemical process that allows plants to convert light energy into chemical energy in the form of sugars) in the warmer months, are being hoarded by the trunk and roots of the vine. Little or no energy is expended during these winter months so this process ensures the vine has adequate stores of carbohydrate for the long growing season ahead.
As the leaves drop away, visibility of the woody vines affords growers the perfect opportunity to commence the long and complicated task of pruning back the canes (last year’s shoots that are now surrounded with a layer of wood). Grapevines are trained in different styles depending on factors such as region, variety and desired results but the consistent aim is to regulate the canopy and control crop yields by promoting favourable leaf-to-fruit ratios. If the ratio is out of balance, there will either be not enough leaves for the photosynthesis needed to fully ripen the grapes; or not enough fruit, causing a distortion in the flavour of the grapes. Grapevines grow vigorously and if left, will eventually produce so much fruit that the fruit won't ripen evenly, or at all, resulting in a crop of lesser quality. It is important then, when pruning grapevines, to ensure shoots will be evenly spaced and positioned for optimal distribution of the vine’s energy. As well as all that, we can all agree that a beautifully tended grapevine adds to the magesty of the vineyard!
So while the neatly pruned vines take a well-earned nap, what is happening in the winery itself? Plenty. The wineries are a hive of activity as grapes are pressed and left to ferment, repairs are undertaken and space is cleared in the cellar door for the new releases. You may also have noticed that a multitude of events and festivals take place during this time to celebrate the new harvest.
Winter is a great time to visit Australia’s wine regions, admire the vines, meet the winemakers, snap up some bargains and be among the first taste some brand new releases.