A January vineyard stroll reveals bare canes showing a healthy rosy brown / tawny color. This is a result of near ideal fall conditions (plenty of rain and a late hard frost. Last year's canes were able to luxuriate in a splendid autumn, and fully ripen and harden off for the winter.
This week the "polar vortex" descended on North America, and the news media was abuzz. Dire warnings of frozen pipes, frost quakes and frost bite. But what about the vines? For the most part, our grape vines don't seem to mind too much (yet.)
They are at their full dormant stage at this point in the winter, the time they are best suited to endure such conditions. In fact, our Minnesota and upstate-New York bred plants wouldn't mind terribly if it dipped double digits below zero. (The coldest reading our vineyard thermometer recorded Monday night / Tuesday morning was a relatively balmy -4 F.)
"Wind Chill" is a warm blooded mammal concern, and our vines are unconcerned with these dramatic numbers the weather media trumpets. (Even our swans seem to have missed the Polar Vortex warnings, as they swam contentedly in a circle of open water on an otherwise frozen lake, water kept open by current created by their body heat and the paddling of their enormous webbed feet.)
For now it is calm and quiet in the vineyard. The snow crunches crisply underfoot. Although, if you stand around long enough on a cold winter day, you will hear some disconcerting cracks ("frost quake" in the locust vineyard poles) and eerie squeals (galvanized trellis wires tensioning and vibrating as they contract.)
- Brian Gregory, Vineyard Manager -