IS SNOW GOOD FOR THE VINEYARDS?
Often on tours I am asked if it snows in the winter and if it is good for the vineyards. The answer is yes. Snow is actually good for vinyards especially where farmers rely on dry farming, no irrigation in the hot summer months.
Piedmont, the “foot of the mountains” is known for its dramatic landscape of rolling hills with Medieval castles perched on top. It is a special treat to see the snowy covered Alps in the background, especially the highest peak, Monviso which they say was the inspiration for the Paramount Pictures! Being near the Alps means that we get a decent amount of snow in the winter. So how does this affect the prestigious Nebbiolo vineyards?
IT’S TIME TO SLEEP
Once the leaves have fallen, and the snow rolls in, it is clear to the vines that it is time to sleep. The vines go dormant for the winter and should not be affected by the cold temperatures. In fact, mother nature sends a clear message to the vines to rest up! Of course, elongated periods of extreme cold with below 0 temps could pose a threat to the vines but snow can also help keep the soil underneath them protected and actually a bit warmer.
BYE BYE PESTS
The snow cleans the air and also prevents any insects or fungi that might still be hanging out on the wood from doing anymore damage. This is perfect for making sure they are healthy and cleansed for the next Spring’s budbreak.
Because the soils of Piemonte can contain a considerable amount of limestone and clay, heavy rainfalls can just slide right off the steep hillsides accumulating on the valley floor. Having a water reserve in the soils provides the vines with water for the hot summers. This is extremely important because it Piemonte must implement dry farming only. The snow which sits on the ground is actually a fantastic way for the ice to melt and trickle down little by little into the depths of the soil and can also add nutrients. As long as the snowfall occurs during the winter months before nature starts waking up again in early spring, it is seen as a positive weather condition here in Piemonte!