Frost Risks to Vineyards in the Northern Hemisphere: A Cold Reality for English Vineyards
Wine production is a delicate balance between science and art, but it’s not all sunshine and rainbows for vineyards in the northern hemisphere. With the wintry cold weather now upon us, English vineyards find themselves grappling with the challenge of frost risks to their delicate vines. However, the taste profiles of cool climate winesmake the risk of frost worth the trouble. In this blog, we’ll explore the risks of frost for vineyards in the northern hemisphere, with a special focus on English vineyards. We’ll also take a look at the taste profiles of cool climate wines and a tool used by vineyards to combat frost – frost candles.
Frost Risks to Vineyards in the Northern Hemisphere:
When temperatures drop below freezing, water in the vines can freeze and expand, damaging or killing the vine’s tissues. This risk of frost is highest during spring and fall seasons, with the former posing a more significant threat as the buds and new shoots of the grapevines are emerging. The risk of frost is higher in cooler regions and at higher altitudes, which makes vineyards in the northern hemisphere particularly vulnerable.
Frost Risks to English Vineyards:
English vineyards have come a long way in recent years, with the cool climate being ideal for producing cool climate wines such as Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier. However, the cool climate also poses a significant risk of frost damage to grapevines, especially during the spring season.
In recent years, English vineyards have experienced several severe frost events, leading to significant damage to the vines and reduced yields. This has been a wake-up call for vineyards to implement various strategies to combat the risks posed by frost. One such strategy is the use of frost candles.
Frost candles, also known as anti-frost candles or vineyard candles, are an effective tool used by vineyards to combat frost damage. These candles work by releasing heat, raising the temperature of the surrounding air and preventing the formation of frost on the vines.
Frost candles are typically placed throughout the vineyard, and the number required depends on the vineyard’s size and the severity of the frost risk. They are lit during the night when temperatures are at their lowest, and they burn for several hours, creating a warm microclimate around the vines.
Frost candles are a costly solution to frost damage, and the cost can be prohibitive for smaller vineyards. They also require a lot of effort and labour to light and monitor throughout the night. It’s not all bad news, though – frost candles have been proven to be an effective tool in combatting frost damage.
Taste Profiles of Cool Climate Wines:
The cooler climate of English vineyards may pose a risk of frost damage, but it’s also what makes cool climate wines unique. Cool climate wines are lighter and more acidic than wines produced in warmer regions, and the grapes ripen more slowly, resulting in more complex flavours.
Chardonnay, Pinot Noir, and Pinot Meunier are the primary grape varieties used in cool climate wine production. Chardonnay is a white grape variety that produces wines with flavours of green apple, lemon, and pear. Pinot Noir is a red grape variety that produces wines with flavours of cherry, raspberry, and spices such as clove and cinnamon. Pinot Meunier is also a red grape variety, often used in sparkling wines, with flavours of red fruits and a slightly floral aroma.
The unique taste profiles of cool climate wines make the risk of frost worth it. However, vineyards must find a way to protect their vines from frost damage to continue producing these delicious wines. The keyword here is determination. Thankfully, for all us lovers of English wines, these resilient vineyard owners refuse to let adverse weather thwart their efforts in producing exceptional wines.