What’s going on in the Loire valley vineyards in May?

grattage loire wine tours

The beginning of May saw another few days when the temperature dropped below zero. Growers were out in force all through the night lighting fires, burning candles and pumping water from the Vienne trying to minimise the damage.

On the whole, around here in Vouvray, most people were happy the damage was minimal although in certain pockets there were more losses adding to those of the 4th and 14th April.

As the risk of frost for 2019 passed, growers have been back out in the vineyards working the soil. Sometimes using a tractor, sometimes using a horse, the area between the rows has been worked to aerate it and minimise weeds. Growers avoid working the soil if there is still a risk of frost as it increases humidity and can lead to more damage.

Frost protection measure in Touraine
Frost protection measures in Touraine

Growers are also de budding and removing excess shoots from the vines and their rootstocks. Controlling yield is the key to making good wine. Removing excess buds that would provide too many bunches of grapes is the order of the day. This requires a basic understanding of the vine and what should/should not be left.

Checking out the Sauvignon vines in the Touraine appellation

In the winery, growers have been bottling their 2018 wines (the ones that are not oak aged). We’ve tasted some fabulous wines that offer spectacular value for money. One to look out for is Jean-Francois Merieau’s Gamay. A splendid summer red just packed with fresh fruit. It has the class of a wine much more expensive than its 10€ price tag.

Now we are just waiting for the summer weather to arrive. It’s been very chilly these past few weeks with intermittent but insubstantial rain. Growers have been forced to get out and treat a couple of times. It looks like we are in for a hot weekend and then things return to the 20’s again next week.