Yes. You read that right. Flowering. In grapevines. This is a fact that surprises many but grapevines do produce flowers. The flowers are are extremely small, but contain a stamen, anther, stigma and pistil – just like many other types of flowers. Our viticultural interventions do not really affect the flowering process – but the climate and terroir does have an impact. Climate, especially, has a significant influence on flowering – and the resultant berry set, bunch formation and the yield.
The short period (only about 2 weeks) during which flowering takes place must – ideally – be moderate. Not too hot, not too cold. And definitely no wind. Wind during flowering can be severely detrimental to the process, leading to uneven bunch formation and loose berries. If the berries on the bunch are too loosely packed, they will grow bigger, which has a downstream effect on the intensity of flavour in the berry (and, of course, the wine). This is especially problematic with red cultivars.
Here on the farm, the team will often do only one round of suckering, leaving the flowers more protected during the flowering period. Then, once flowering is complete, they will do a second run to complete the suckering process. This year, our flowering period seems to be in the Goldilocks zone – not too hot, not too cold (and definitely not too windy). This bodes well for beautiful bunches of grapes in Harvest 2023!