So… before anyone even thinks it! The title is with regards to Queens version of the song! Not Jedward’s version! Ok now that that is all cleared up we can go on to what this blog is all about- Stressing the Vines! You see it’s a common misunderstanding that wine grapes need fertile soil in order to produce the very best wine… WRONG! Actually what they need is to be stressed- so stressed in fact that they only produce low yields of grapes, but these are bursting with flavour! So I’ve picked out 3 areas where stressing of the vines might occur!
1/ Irrigation- The French idea of terroir really goes against this. They believe that natural rainfall should be the only source of water for the vines. However…. that’s all very good in theory, but the real world is a slightly different story! So in hotter climates where rainfall isn’t as much of a certainty as it is here in Ireland then they need. But also because it’s a delicate balance- if the plants get too much water, then the rootstock’s are shallow and you just end up with a plant that is essentially a big bush of leafs and grapes… But if they don’t get enough water then some of the key plant components shut down- such as photosynthesis- and the grapes don’t get what they need. So timing is everything! During the budding and the flowering stages water is essential, but once the fruit is set there is a window before it starts to change colour where it won’t hurt the plant to hold back on the water…. This encourages the plant to focus on producing small berries, which are more flavourful!
2/ The soil is one of the more important factors with regards to good wine. Basically what you are looking for is a thin topsoil and subsoil so that it retains water ok, but not so much that the roots become saturated. Basically, by leaving it just out of reach you get plants that are constantly straining themselves to get a decent supply of water which means they are majorly stressed and we get little tasty grapes!
3/ The age of the vine can determine how stressed they are! Essentially after around 20 years the vines start producing lower yields of fruit, which as you may have guessed…. yes its full of flavour! So imagine how intensely small and flavourful grapes from a vine that is 120+years old would be! Pretty frickin tasty! One of the best regions for old vines is Barossa in Australia. You see most of the vines in Europe were wiped out in the late 19th century by the phylloxera epidemic- so it’ll take some time before we have really old vines in Europe!
So there you have it 3 examples of how a vine might be stressed! Hopefully ye found it interesting enough! On a side note for anyone who doesn’t know- our 100 summer wines promotion is still going on, and there is some fantastic value to be found in it! So hope to see ye soon!