The world has stopped. We are suffocating under the blanket protection of the home and counting the days until we can set foot outside again. But, will things go back to the way they were before? The uncertainty is stressful. We mourn those who have left us. But, in these times of confinement, not all the tears that fall are born of sadness. Life goes on and the grapevines also weep, but they weep tears of joy, weep because life returns, because the buds are bursting on the vine.
After the cold of winter, when the vines fall into a deep sleep, spring arrives at last. With the rise in temperature, the plants wake up and the vegetative cycle of the grapevine begins again. This new cycle starts in the depths of the earth, in the roots of the vine, as moisture and nutrients are absorbed. The sap, the lifeblood of the plant, begins to flow within and seeps out as tears to soothe the wounds left by pruning, but these are not tears of weakness, they denote strength. The vines are starting to bud.
Pruning: a new beginning
Pruning takes place during winter, a season when our vines are shrouded in sadness due to the lack of light and the cold. The exposed trunks wait impatiently for the arrival of spring and, with it, the budburst of the vines. With the start of each cycle, the grapevine renews itself.
The vegetative cycle of the grapevine begins with pruning, it is the crucial phase for the renewal of our vines and the setting in motion of our future yield. The soothing force of the vine’s tears will depend on the efficiency and precise timing of the pruning.
The aim of pruning is, as well as encouraging the regeneration of the plant, to reduce the number and length of the tendrils so that the grapevine’s energy is channelled into the bearing of quality fruit.
There are different types of pruning, depending on the age of the vine, the structure that is wanted and, once this has been decided, to control production.
Pruning is precision work done by hand, and calls for experience and stamina. As the saying goes, “to each their own”, and our winegrowers are very particular when it comes to this necessary amputation. It is a job that few delegate to others because the future of their vineyard is at stake, the development of the plants, the quality of their fruit and, in the end, the quality of our wines.
Bud burst leads to a new beginning
When spring arrives nature comes back to life and the life cycle of the grapevine begins anew, the sap flows, and a sticky substance covers the wounds left by pruning to encourage their healing, while also protecting the plant from potential pests and diseases. Sometimes, the vines weep for over a week and each plant can ooze several litres of sap.
The tears of the vine dry when the sap has covered and cured the scars left behind by winter, and now the grapevine will awake and renew its vegetative cycle. The buds begin to appear, in what is termed bud break or bud burst. The shoots swell and grow to allow room for further buds. Little by little the leaves wend their way among the wounds of the vine and, in the twinkle of an eye, we again have before us the fine sight of the vines in flower, we are witnesses to nature reborn.
It should be born in mind that not all the buds break at the same time and the vines do not awaken from their slumber all at once. Very cold winters and wet springs can lead to early and uniform bud break, but there are other factors that that affect bud burst, such as grape variety and the microclimate of the vineyard, its altitude, its orientation and exposure to sunlight.
Bud burst will bring new fruit and our vineyards will again give us the opportunity to create the best Utiel Requena wines we can, so in a way it also represents the start of the new season for Grupo Coviñas.
The life cycle of the grapevine continues, and though the journey can be hard and trouble-strewn, the tears that fall are not all sad, there are tears of joy, too. As will be the case when, like the grapevine, we also begin to re-emerge, and burst back into life.