LVines are plants which renew themselves. Their growth follows an annual cycle. Each vine goes through a series of stages. Winegrowers are fully aware of all the challenges for each one of those stages and they have many different tasks to carry out to be able to harvest the finest fruit. Here is a detailed description of the lifecycle for vines.
The vine’s two cycles
Traditionally, a distinction is made between the two cycles followed by vines throughout the year :
- The vine’s growth cycle which runs from March to November
- The winter cycle, where the vine is dormant, from mid-November to March.
The cycles involve different stages. The duration of each stage depends on a number of criteria including the grape variety, soil types, vineyard management choices and weather conditions.
The grapevine’s 9 growth stages
The vine’s growth cycle can be divided into 9 stages
At the start of spring, vines come out of their winter dormancy. The sap rises to the pruning cuts – this is referred to as vine ‘tears’.
From the end of March to the beginning of April, the buds swell and split to provide room for the new growth shoots.
These are still very fragile and frost can deal them a fatal blow.
This is a challenging time for winegrowers, because frost is not a rare occurrence at this time of year.
At the end of spring, the young shoots develop and start to form leaves.
The freshly-emerged vine leaves unfurl and gradually take on their distinctive, permanent shape.
At the start of summer, usually in June, milder temperatures and more widespread sunshine allow small white flowers to emerge. They will form clusters which can be made up of hundreds of flowers.
This stage in the vine’s lifecycle only lasts around ten days. Subsequently, the berries will replace the small white flowers.
Fruit set occurs in June, after the flowers have been pollinated.
However, at this stage, weather conditions are decisive. The wind along with cold and damp weather can lead to what winegrowers call ‘coulure’ or shatter. This means that the sap has not reached the flowers which consequently fall without being pollinated.
When conditions are felicitous, small green balls replace the flowers. Each berry is formed of between one and four pips.
Fruit set is when the actual berry emerges.
Winegrowers can then estimate yields for the forthcoming harvest.
During veraison, the hard, green berries are transformed and take on their final colour.
One by one, the berries evolve depending on the grape variety. They therefore turn:
- From translucent to golden for white varieties
- From red to dark blue for red varieties.
Over the summer, the grapes ripen. This is the stage where aromas develop. Acidity mellows and sugar content increases.
Winegrowers are extremely attentive during this phase, so as to determine the best time to…
Depending on varieties and weather conditions, the grape harvest takes place from September to October.
This is when the fruit is picked.
Once the grape harvest is over, vines enter a period of dormancy. The winter cycle can now begin.
The sap goes back down the vine.
The vine’s lifecycle follows the seasons. The duration of each stage can vary depending on the grape variety, but the process of the growth cycle remains the same. Vineyard management by winegrowers and weather conditions also play a pivotal role in the quality of the crop.