A healthy vine is a …frozen vine???

Wine people may often be heard saying that wine starts in the vineyard.  While this may seem obvious, what is less obvious is the feeling many wine folks say – that a bad winemaker can still make good wine with good grapes although a good winemaker generally can not make a great wine with bad grapes.

Vines must stay alive from year to year as they only give off fruit once a year, in the late summer & fall – harvest time.  The vines do not give much fruit the first 3 years and many winemakers don’t bother using the fruit from the first 3 years anyway.  And as vines age they tend to produce better grapes for winemaking.  The fruit becomes richer as an aging vine produces less fruit.  And as the roots go deeper the fruit is said to gain complexities.  But how is one to keep a vine alive when the elements take hold and frost sets in?

Well, pre-freeze the vines of course…


…OK, so this was something I had trouble wrapping my head around when I first heard it.  But the theory (or I guess science) is quite interesting.  The vines are sprayed with water just before a frost.  This water then freezes, and encapsulates the vines in a protective ICE shell – keeping it safe and protecting it from the harsh environment.

I bring this up today NOT because I’m looking to play Mr. Wizard, not because it is FREEZING in NYC and not because I have ice-wine on my mind.  But rather because I read an article about a problem Russian River (Sonoma, CA) growers may be facing.  The water used to spray the vines and create that protective ice shell comes from local streams.  These streams are home to salmon.  And there is a concern that the salmon numbers are dropping as a result of lower water levels.  This has led to the possibility that farmers may lose the ability to spray their vines and vineyards may be severely damaged.

Not sure how this is all going to play out, but I do hope that the vines & salmon are all saved.  Hey, can’t we all get along…

Happy Salmon & wine tasting!