November is a fairly peaceful time in the vineyards. This year it’s been mild and the leaves on the vines only really started to fall recently after we had a couple of days when the temperature dropped below zero. It takes a while for the vines to enter dormancy (when they literally take a breather during the cold winter months until next spring). The sap goes back down the vine and it survives on its reserves over the months to come.
We’ve seen a little pre-pruning in some of the bigger vineyards and even a little actual pruning (pre-pruning detaches the top section of the canes from the tallest wire making the job of pruning a little easier). For the most part, growers wait a little longer before starting pruning proper as later pruning delays budburst (and an early budburst exposes the vines to the risk of frost damage).
It’s also a time when some growers uproot old vineyards that are weary from years of production and think about replanting with baby vines that will have another few years before they come onto the production line. Old posts are being lifted and replaced, wires repaired and hedges tended. Bio-dynamic growers are planting trees that will provide better balance in and around their vineyards and encourage wildlife.
In previous years in the Loire, growers have still been making passes through the vineyard for the production of fine quality sweet wine from the Chenin Blanc grape but this year harvest is over and producers are excited with the beautiful quality of their grapes.
In the winery fermentations continue for those using wild yeasts and others are over.
You can expect to taste some amazing wines across the board from the Loire this year in all categories. White, rosé, sweet, dry, red and sparkling. It’s all good news. The first big opportunity to taste semi-finished wines from 2018 is after Christmas although the samples we have tasted from tank and barrel so far are already showing huge promise.