In April this year, late frost caused damage to vineyards in some of France's most famous winemaking regions, including Champagne, Bordeaux and Burgundy. Innovative ways to combat the cold included candles, heaters and even the down-draught from helicopters. And while in this case, timing was the biggest problem - frost in Spring damages early shoots - a good cold and wet winter is generally beneficial to vineyards.
Although winter conditions in cooler climates can injure grapes because of too low temperatures, Southern Hemisphere winters need to cool down sufficiently to allow vines to enter their resting phase. In a warm climate like South Africa and after two consecutive short winters with low rainfall (40% down on the long term), a proper cold and wet 2017 winter is of the essence. Winter arrived late but announced itself properly with a much publicized winter storm in the middle of June. Temperatures are low, we have had some rain and even a light dusting of snow on the Franschhoek mountains.
But why is a proper winter so important to the winemaker?