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As the days are getting shorter and the nights are getting colder, it is a stark reminder that another Rutherglen winter will be upon us before we know it! Where does the time go?

The end of Autumn is a beautiful and critical time in the vineyard. With the harvest complete, the leaves of the vines start changing colour and ultimately drop to the ground. It is a sight for sore eyes! But what does this actually mean?

Although the leaves are changing colour, they are still photosynthesizing, and will do so until those cold, frosty mornings hit and the leaves fall. This period is very important in the cycle of the grape vine, as the vine is still accumulating carbohydrates for its next growth period starting in Spring.

As the temperatures continue to decrease the vine starts to prepare for the winter shut down (or dormancy). Essentially, the vine sets itself up with the equivalent of 'anti-freeze', becoming more cold hardy and protecting itself (and in particular the buds - the source of next season's fruit) from freezing.

The carbohydrates that have been accumulated (not only from the end of Autumn, but throughout the whole growing season), are converted to starch and are stored in the permanent structures of the vine, such as roots and trunks. These reserves provide energy to the vine during the dormant winter period, so the vine can maintain basic metabolic functions while no photosynthesis is occurring (as the vine is without leaves), ensuring the vine is not completely inactive and does not die.

To help the vine prepare for the upcoming winter, in a warm and drier climate like Rutherglen, it is important to maintain good water levels in the soil, so the vine doesn’t go into stress. This year, we have enjoyed good rainfall in May, but it was important to irrigate (at much lower levels than during the growing season) after harvest in March and April, which were very dry months.

With the last of the leaves falling now, we wait until the vines are in complete dormancy before pruning begins in the winter.

Cheers, and rock it like a redhead, Jen



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