And they’re off….

by Laura Gray on March 30, 2012

The first buds have appeared, signalling the start of the vine’s annual growth cycle. In Italian they are called gemme, which also means jewels. The next stage is known locally as sfarfallamento from the word for butterfly since the first leaves look like farfalle perched on the vinestocks. Budbreak at Le Due Porte, our highest altitude vineyard, was 22 March 2012. This is early for us – last year it was 1st April (and that was early). Our agronomer, Massimo Achilli, has confirmed that that this year in Montalcino budbreak was between 10 -15 days earlier than usual.

This was caused by there having been no intermediate spring season after February’s cold. Normally spring temperatures are around 15-16 degrees (59 °F) but this year we went from -10 °C to + 24 in a week (from 14°F to 75°F). The plants, vines and fruit-trees were rudely awoken from their winter slumber and their only course of action was frenetic budding.

The first “gemme” always give me the feeling of being perched at the top of a rollercoaster, ready for the plunge. Within weeks there will be leaves and then walls of foliage, tendrils, grape clusters and bunches and everything else that has to happen before harvest in October.

There has already been talk of emergency irrigation because of drought. We have had 40-60% less rain than at this point last year and, in spite of the snow, the water table is low. The current DOCG regulations do not permit irrigation (see the Weather Rule) and if it doesn’t rain soon there will be problems for 2012 vintage.

Mercifully rain has been predicted from next Tuesday onwards, just in time for Easter and the school holidays. Fingers crossed.



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