Saturday, August 27, 2011

It's Hot out there...

It has been hot here in Slovenia - very hot! I know that may sound attractive given that Ireland has apparently just had the coldest summer since 1947. Back at the end of July we had about 10 days of relatively cool temperatures - even as low as 10 Celsius at night. At the time, we felt it was probably a good thing as it would allow the vines to slow down a little - they were about 14 days ahead of previous years at that point.

Now the opposite is happening - daytime highs in the shade are as high as 38 Celsius - and at 2am the other night it was 27 Celsius! A local winemaker told us the daytime temperature in amongst the vines (i.e. in the sun) was 63 Celsius! This is not so good for the vines, or the grapes. What seems to happen is that they begin to shut down - there is plenty of water in the soil, but it's just the searing temperatures that are causing them to batten down the hatches. And there's a big difference between slowing down and shutting down - in the case of shutting down, the sugar levels stop rising, yet acidity continues to drop. Not great for the aim of harvesting phenologically and physiolocically ripe grapes.
Grapes tested this morning on the two rows of vines we have "converted" to single guyot do show increased sugar levels - up to an average of 60 Oechsle. But those on the double-guyot vines have slowed, or even stopped - the vines are struggling to deliver sugar to the higher volumes of fruit - and they are still around the 47 Oechsle level.

Of course, the heat brings other considerations. Two things happened to us for the first time - the first we should have anticipated: we left a bottle of wine in the back of the case, only to return to find the cork and bottle separated! And a smell of wine throughout the whole car - should be interesting next time we face a random police check!

The second incident was less predictable. It would seem the heat shattered, or burst, the rear window on our car. At first we thought it must have been deliberately broken, but the detectives among you will notice that the force that broke it came from the inside - and pushed the glass outwards. All the other windows were open - but this one was closed and we guess that the glass must have expanded slightly - and given it was shut tightly, had no other option but to shatter under pressure. It'll be interesting to see what the insurance company says......

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