Wine: The Conservative Industry

Frostprotection_2Yesterday, while walking around the vineyard with my graphic designer and photographer and the client (see the previous post), my client states, out of the blue, "That wind is cold…it’s coming from the North. It’s going to be colder tonight and we’ll get frost." It seemed he was talking to himself.

I woke up this morning to find a nice layer of frost and ice on my car and roof of my house.

I live in Glen Ellen in the Sonoma Valley. My little microclimate tends to be a bit colder and a bit warmer than areas not more than a mile away. You can bet that last night a number of "frost alarms" went off in vineyard managers and vineyard owners’ bedrooms.

This is probably the most dangerous time of year for vintners. If a heavy frost comes and you don’t have protection against it, you can lose a lot of potential crop. The danger can last well into May. Most frost protection comes in the form of overhead sprinklers that will come on when the temperature in the vineyard drops below a certain point. It went on last night. I’ve not heard of any damage, but I’ve not surveyed my contacts yet.

But getting back to my client, you have to appreciate this kind of connection to the environment. We forget sometimes that the wine industry is filled to the brim with farmers, not just marketers, winemakers and distributors. Farming makes a person conservative. And this conservative nature has been used as an explanation for many of the methods and ideas you find in the wine industry from the marketing to the winemaking. There is a fundamental simplicity to the farmer. They work with and fight nature at the same time. And those who have been farming long enough to read nature’s intentions usually produce the best grapes.

Posted In: Wine Business


2 Responses

  1. Mike Duffy - April 13, 2005

    Nice post. A business that depends so much on the weather is intrinsically challenging.

  2. tom - April 13, 2005

    Thanks, Mike. It must be challenging. I’ve worked with vintners for many years now. Heard them complain about the weather, etc, etc. But unless you are actually the person growing those grapes it’s hard to appreciate the stress that a simple cold snap can bring on.
    It’s going to be just as cold tonight too, I hear.

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