You think it sounds like fun to have your own vineyard and make your own wine! It seems that the weather conditons are getting more extreme (is this down to global warming?) here in Bordeaux at least and it is providing a continual headache for the winemakers here.
If the problems caused by Trump putting additional taxes on French wine last October, or or course the Covid restrictions on exporting wine (or getting anyone to come and bottle if you did have orders), are not enough, the weather seems to have it in for the hardworking wine producers here in Bordeaux in 2020. Having a wine producer partner, there has been zero confinement for them… as they have rushed to keep up with the vine’s growth like in a tropical rainforest. #lavignecontinue
So far there has been risk of frost with many sleepless nights battling with bonfires and candles (start april). Since there have been the electrical storms with very hot muggy daytime temperatures and monsoon type rainfall. Hail has detroyed many vineyards here in Bordeaux (17th April around castillon and St Emilion) – made worse as we are at least 10 days ahead of ‘usual’ conditions so the damage is worse. And again in the Sauternes area on Saturday 9th May.
Fortunately the flowering has not yet started with all this rain. 100 mm have fallen in the last couple of days leaving many rivers overflowing and vineyards submerged. Hot and humid conditions means that the risk of Mildew and even worse Black Rot are very high. The first three sprays are copper sulphate which is a contact spray and so it washed off as soon as it rains.
With more and more producers organic and biodynamic, the quantities are limited and they are unable to use a penetrant which helps it to stick. For those who did not start early enough on 16th April, the mildew is already there. Everyone is at four treatments already and we are only 12th May!
The ground is sodden and heavy tractors are unable to access the vines. If you miss the timing, at such an early stage in the game, you could risk losing your crop. 2018 yields were badly affected due to Mildew – which struck mid July the weekend of the Bastille Day celebrations. Pontet Canet (biodynamic for over 15 years) lost two thirds of its production despite being managed by the guru of biodynamics, Jean-Michel Comme. We have just heard that he has resigned after 30 years running the estate. Speaking to him last year, he said that the loss of 2018 hit him very hard. No-one has seen such disease pressure so early on in the vine cycle. My partner, Franck Moureau, Château Béard la Chapelle is investing in a 4×4 quad with spraying equipement on the back, to ensure he can get on the land when he wants.
So fingers crossed for sunshine the next few weeks. We need sun and dry conditions so all the flowers can come out and be pollinated at the same time – to then have uniform ripening 110 days or so from mid flowering.
Biodynamic @ChateauClimens in Barsac has just been hit by a big hail storm. They list out what they have been through the past few years and it makes for chilling reading.
“Hail has severely hit 100% of the Climens vineyard
2019: Pourriture aigre due aux drosophiles/flies causing acidic rot
2018: Série de décrochages physiologique de la vigne due aux conditions climatiques 5hl/ ha .No Climens produced due to climatic conditions
2017: Gel / frost : 2,5hl/ha No Climens produced
Nous aurions volontiers fait une pause entre deux calamités
We would have appreciated a little break between 2 calamities
Here is what David Poutays from the dynamic biodynamic Chateau de Cazebonne in the Graves recounted on Instagram;
Thunderstorms, the bulk of the rain is behind us. Still a few rains announced for the end of the week and we should have a week of calm and sun next week with a return of heat. It should do good and dry out the humidity. But the mildew is there. The blackrot too. It’s the latter that we fear most. When it comes down to the bunch, there is nothing more to do. The crop is lost. So today, we treat with copper (350g metal per hectare by mixing 3 different coppers, 5kg of sulfur (for black rot in particular), and an energized herbal tea of horsetail, valerian and comfrey). We'll see where we can go. Not everywhere anyway ... and we'll wait for the first window on the plots that we couldn't process. In particular the plots with the most slope or the plots at the bottom of the slope, still flooded."
So perhaps you might like to have a think about your dream occupation again and just buy the wines to enjoy. Its the easier option.