On Sunday evening and Monday here in the Highlands of Scotland we were plunged back into winter as the photo above shows. This was a rude shock as Saturday was a glorious warm sunny day (see photo below) with temperatures hitting 14˚C. Instead temperatures Sunday night/early Monday were forecast to fall to – 7˚C.
Squeaky bum’ time for vignerons…
In the Northern Hemisphere April with its threat of Spring frosts is always a stressful time for wine producers. Unfortunately the sudden cold snap is not confined to Scotland. The night of Tuesday/ Wednesday will see below zero temperatures in the Loire, Burgundy and Champagne plus also some minus temperatures forecast on Wednesday/Thursday night even in the northern Rhône. Unfortunately not only are minus temperatures forecast but the following morning is expected to be sunny. It is often the bright sunshine after a frosty night that does the most damage as the ice around the delicate buds acts as a magnifying glass burning them. It is likely that the humidity will be low – a positive as there is less chance of ice forming around the buds.
Much will depend upon how far advanced the vegetation is. From Facebook posts (see below) it is clear that recent high temperatures after a cold winter means that growth is well underway in Anjou and starting in Bourgueil and Chinon. Things are likely to be less advanced in Touraine east of Tours and in the Central vineyards.
Of course it isn’t just the vines that are threatened but also fruit trees that are in bud or in flower.
This week’s Forecasts – BBC Weather:
Here are examples of current forecasts from the BBC. Unfortunately temperatures in the vineyards are likely to be lower than they are in towns and cities.
Fighting the frost
Vignerons in many parts of France will be making their preparations to fight the frost and try to protect their delicate young buds. Since the serious frost in 2016 there has been a lot of investment in frost protection by Loire producers with wind machines to warm and circulate the cold air along with the use of aspersion, helicopters, frost pots, bales of hay etc.. Hopefully they will be successful as the Loire has suffered a lot Spring frosts in recent years – 2016, 2017, 2019. The last thing they want is a frost affected 2021 vintage.
Fingers crossed – toes, too!!