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Unheard of - young vines shattered by frost in Bordeaux

By Vitisphere December 22, 2021
Unheard of - young vines shattered by frost in Bordeaux
“We cut the vine right back in the hope that it will grow again. It will depend on the grape variety, but we have cause for hope because they are young vines”, concludes Massimo Giudici. - crédit photo : Massimo Giudici (Simonit & Sirch)

t the end of autumn, master pruner Massimo Giudici of Simonit & Sirch discovered grapevine trunks devastated by spring frosts in Cabernet-Sauvignon, Merlot and Petit Verdot vineyards located in Barsac and Pujols in southern Gironde. In blocks where overall temperatures plummeted to -6°C last April, young mixed plantings of 2 to 4 year-old vines have been displaying torn, splintered bark for months. Although he only witnessed this unusual damage on isolated mixed plantings in this part of Bordeaux, Giudici recalls seeing young vineyards in Italy affected across-the-board after the 2017 frosts. “There's nothing you can do”, said Giudici, who “decided to prune the three-year-old wood to regenerate the vines”.

The wood has splintered, it’s no good, it has to be discarded”, confirms viticulture professor Alain Deloire from Montpellier Supagro. Judging from the pruning cuts (photo), the expert notes that “the spring frost affected the cambium cells, the most fragile cells in the wood, as they are meristematic cells. To cause this damage, temperatures must have dropped to -8-12°C, unless there was some weakening of the vine, caused by tillage tools for instance”.

This is the first time the viticulture professor has witnessed such damage in France. He points out that the frost did not cause necrosis on all the cambium, allowing phloem and bark to be produced, but not wood. “It's too damaged, and cannot be recovered: 30 to 80% of [sap] conduction has been lost, even though these are young vines in the process of getting established. If you continue on this cane, in 5 to 10 years the vine will be dead. You have to cut back below the splintered area”.

All Comments (4)
Kyle Brown Le 23 décembre 2021 à 17:10:41
What rootstock are these vines on? Is there a better rootstock with some resistance to cold or would that not matter on the scion wood in this case?
Kyle Brown Le 23 décembre 2021 à 17:08:11
What rootstock are these vines on? Is there a better rootstock with any kind of cold resistance?
RICHARD Le 23 décembre 2021 à 17:03:04
we do have a solution in Canada for newly planted vines and also existing mature vineyards: wind generators. The -6 C reported in that Bordeaux area is cause by stagnating cold air masses, floating below relatively warmer air, usually 5 to 6 degree higher. In the late 70's the use of helicopter was frequent in Niagara on the Lake Region, the investment of wind generator (using electricity or propane) reduced the cost of the helicopter and by being hooked up to a computer set up with an alarm system for temperature, the machine would start by it self. This is done to prevent the freezing of the young buds, so it will work also for the prevention of the freezing of the bark. Another point: through varietals evolutions leading to clonal selections in cold climate, the work realized by pioneers achieved a higher tolerance to frost. Hope this can help our colleagues of warmer climates.
Winecompass Le 23 décembre 2021 à 10:46:07
I am afraid standard occurrence in many areas of North America / Canada cold climate ( as opposed to cool climate ) Viticulture . Bordeaux is on the same latitude as Nova Scotia so with climate changes - the differences might revert . Look to the hybrid varieties for cold and disease resistance
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