Learning about wine, vines and vignerons whilst living in the Languedoc

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Time to head back to the UK for 3 weeks or so. Time to reflect on all that has happened since the dark, cold days of January. It has been wonderful to witness changes in seasons from almond blossom to irises to poppies to full bloom of flowers, fruits and, of course, vines. From the pruned sticks of January to the lush, verdant vines of June. Changes everywhere.

Let’s start in my favourite vineyard, Rome with photos from various months showing the gobelet vines I call the centurions in deference to their stature and location.

collage 5


La Garrigue, a vineyard of Syrah and Grenache as well as white varieties is one I have watched closely as it was where I watched Carole and Jeff prune in January. Read this collage left to right on both rows before the full growth in the centre.



So what has changed in the grapes?

Top row

left – bourgeons / buds with their cottony covering and green specks of leaf

2nd from left – Etaillage and grappes / first leaves with the formation of future bunches

3rd from left – grappes / buds form in bunches

right – the bunches separate



Bottom row

right – fleuraison with capuchons / the flowering of the grapes with little brown hoods

middle – fleuraison complete flowering bunch

left – boutons / the grapes begin to form

The grapes are starting to form their seeds which will gradually harden (nouaison). When I return here in July the black grapes will start to change colour (véraison). Can’t wait to see it.




Version francaise

During the last week the vines have started to change, again. Flowering (Floraison) has begun in Puimisson. The buds (boutons) which formed in the last few weeks and divided on the grappes are starting to flower as you can see in the photo. The boutons have little hoods (capuchons) which protect the forming flower and as they fall away the flower emerges. Technically it is officially called floraison when 50% of the buds have flowered but the process is usually given the name.


Capuchons on some of the buds

The flowers are in the form of stamens or pistils. Vines self fertilise and the pollen produced in the anther part of the stamen will be carried into the ovule of the pistil. The vines have no need for bees or other insects to pollinate and fertilise them despite popular belief. The flowers will then give way to the fruit, as with other fruit and vegetables.


Pistils and stamens are evident in this vine in Rome vineyard

Floraison is also a marking point in the vineyard calendar as traditionally there are 100 days between the flowering of the bud and the harvesting of the grape. In reality it is the white grape producing vines and precocious ones at that which are flowering, though the rest will follow in the next couple of weeks. So plans can be made for the harvest, the countdown starts … but let’s enjoy summer first.



Tendrils clinging to the wires