It’s without a doubt one of the most beautiful times of the year in a vineyard when the leaves begin to change and the entire valley rolls out like a Persian rug for as a far as the eye can see.
But what is happening? Until harvest, the vine’s focus is on using its energy and nutrition to promote growth, photosynthesis in the leaves and produce and ripen its fruit for potential reproduction (or from the winemaker’s perspective, to produce wine). Following harvest, that energy is directed to storing starches in the vine roots to sustain the vine during winter dormancy and in readiness for budburst next spring. In consequence, the leaves, which can no longer sustain their photosynthetic activity, begin to die (“senescence”), turning yellow or bright golden colour. The result is, as mentioned, a spectacular carpet of colour.
As a grapegrower/winemaker – Lindsay, tired after harvest, recognises this beauty but also something else – there is a moment, a short breathing space until the leaves fall, signifying the end of the season, but the beginning of the next as pruning must now be commenced.
And so, the cycle starts again.