Could underground heat exchangers combat frost in vineyards?

Friday July 23 2021 by Vitisphere

 François Jamet claims that he has received generally positive feedback from his fellow winegrowers: 'They told me that my idea was not daft, and that it was certainly an avenue to explore”. François Jamet claims that he has received generally positive feedback from his fellow winegrowers: 'They told me that my idea was not daft, and that it was certainly an avenue to explore”. - Photo credit : Domaines Jamet

“The vines around the cellar vents are often not affected by frost. Could this be due to the temperate air that permanently reigns in the underground galleries, and could it warm up our vines in the event of frost over larger areas with a device inspired by the underground heat exchanger? This technology has been tried and tested for heating and cooling homes, but so far nobody has looked into it for winegrowing”. François Jamet, a winegrower in Saint-Nicolas-de-Bourgueil, has been working on the issue, and explains how he feels it could work: “In Saint-Nicolas and across the region, there are many wineries, sometimes with several levels of galleries, where the air is around 12°C all year round. Fans located at the entrance to these cellars and built into partition walls could concentrate and push the temperate air flows outwards. The flows would be channelled into vineyards with large diameter ducts”, he claims.

Jamet presented his idea on social media and to the Saint-Nicolas wine producers’ organisation. “I want to get discussions going, everyone can think about it. Fluid energy specialists and students could take up the issue and study its feasibility and benefits, especially in the event of advection frost, with a large mass of cold air. Temperate air from the cellars would replace or mix with the cold air by being stirred by wind towers”.

According to Jamet, the idea can only be implemented collectively. “Funding of the equipment should be shared between winegrowers. Winery owners should also benefit from providing the temperate air, a natural source of energy that costs nothing to produce”.

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