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Wine Diary

Restless Sleep?

November 5, 2012

When it rains around All Saint’s Day and splendid grapes are still hanging in the vineyards (as is the case with us in Käferberg, Lamm, and Vincent’s Spiegel), should this be a cause for sleepless nights?
 
The average monthly precipitation is 40 mm. This rain will be temporarily stored in humus and consumed by the green plants growing between the vines. If it has not rained for weeks, there will be no surplus of water, and the vines will have to struggle … so, if it has not rained more than 40 mm – keep sleeping soundly! The vintner or uneasy wine lovers can find the amounts of rainfall at the local weather stations, i.e. http://www.wetter.at/wetter/oesterreich/niederoesterreich/langenlois
 
However one might worry about the fruit rotting because of the rain … but what’s the outside temperature? If it stays cool like almost every year around All Saint’s Day … keep sleeping easy. Unwanted rot needs higher temperatures!
 
But what if it has already rained more than 40 mm and it continues to rain AND warm winds from south (Föhn) push temperatures over 15° C? Now – one could start worrying - except that it wouldn’t help a bit, since growers cannot actually influence the weather! At any rate the vintner would have to be patient until everything has dried up again.
 
What's the worst case? – Botrytis, the so called “noble rot”, might enter the vineyards. Does this mean we might get sweet wines? a BA (Beerenauslese) or TBA (Trockenbeerenauslese)? Or if we wait for real frost – perhaps an ice wine (Eiswein)? That wouldn’t be bad at all! So even if the weather is really bad – keep on sleeping peacefully! Not all grapes will immediately be afflicted by Botrytis. By working hard, the grower will still get his chance to separate the shriveled berries from the ones free of noble rot. That is why the vintner should continue sleeping deeply and soundly and save his energies for the last days of harvest, when it will get really cold and selecting the grapes will require all of his resources. Outstanding wines might be his award?! So far 2012 has been blessed with a glorious Autumn – no reason whatsoever for anxieties or restless sleep!