While You Were Sleeping


Meanwhile, in the vineyard…

Last post, while the focus ended up being on reserve wines, the original intent was to merely relate what was going on in the winery at the moment- I know, happens to the best of us, right?  This week, we will be visiting what is going on in the vineyard right now, and who knows- it might actually be about that and not how much snow we got over the weekend (just a dusting).


So, to get the scoop on what is up- or not- in the vineyards right now, I asked the winemaker (who, as you all know, I have an “in” with) to write me up a little info sheet on the winter-time vineyard.  I get back a paper with words like senescence, abscission, chromosome duplication, protein synthesis, bifurcated shoots- I thought I left botany behind 20 years ago.  So, with a little threat of nothing but coal in the stocking, I got a revised version written in laymen’s terms.  The vines have begun shutting down (senescence) and  most of the vines have lost their leaves (abscission) though a few of the younger vines may still have a few brave yellow leaves hanging on.  Vines are  a lot like people when it comes to the winter weather- first sign of cold weather, the older ones know their job is done, they just want to shut it down and go to bed.  The younger ones are still hanging out waiting to go party after work.


With the leaves gone, we can evaluate the canopy infrastructure- did we get proper growth in height and diameter of the shoots?  Did we have too many or too few shoots and did we have any that split off in two different directions (bifurcated)- any of which could indicate nutritional deficiencies or hormonal issues (see, it’s not just a female thing).


From this information, we can develop a strategy for next year’s growing season.

In the past, I believe I have stated that this is the time the vines go dormant- for the most part it’s true.  They are actually in a state somewhere between sleeping (where you still have cell regeneration) and dormant (nada going on)- call it slormant?  High concentrations of a dormancy hormone have built up to keep all activity at a minimum, just enough to ensure the survival of the buds and woody tissue.  However, preparation has already started for the new growing season:  while there is no cell division or growth, within the cells themselves, there is some- here it is-chromosome duplication images-5

and protein synthesis


occurring so when the soil warms up and the sap starts to flow, the growing process is ready to begin.  For right now, with rain, snow and frost in the forecast for the next few months, we wish the vines a nice winter’s slormant.

I would like to give acknowledgment to the artist of the partying grape leaf in the 3rd image- he is pictured asleep in the first image, though he has added a few years since then, just having passed his 9 year milestone today.


About dwdirwin

Wife of Naggiar Vineyards winemaker Derek Irwin, mother to 4 active kids and one dog and newbie blogger!
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8 Responses to While You Were Sleeping

  1. George Goldie says:

    Great explanation…thanks, keep up your blogs!

    • dwdirwin says:

      Thank you- I’m glad to hear you find the topics useful! If you ever have any topics you’d like me to cover, just comment and I’d love to put it in the queue.

  2. Robert (Bob) Smearden says:

    As usual, I enjoyed this blog. The wine maker to be is just precious. We have 6 grand babies and love them dearly.
    Hopefully you will be giving some hints on pruning in a few moths. I have a MICRO vineyard in the back yard here in Roseville. Twelve vines only. Obviously just for fun. First year for berries and barely got enough for a bottle but that will help teach some of the basics. They are in second fermentation on the kitchen sink in a gallon jug with an airlock.
    I plan on head pruning in the spring. Hopefully I’ll get a few more berries next year.
    Thanks for doing what you do. I look forward to reading it each month.

    • dwdirwin says:

      Thank you for reading and thank you for the compliments on my youngest- he’s now 9 and I kind of miss those days where he would fall asleep anywhere and in any position.
      I try to have my posts follow along what is going on in the vineyards and winery at the time and pruning is coming up so I will definitely make sure I cover it in one of my weekly posts- have to ask hubby approximately when pruning will begin. I think that’s great trying your hand at winemaking- sounds like when we make beer at home 🙂

  3. Thanks for getting your “in” at the winery to bring it down to layman’s terms. I am certainly a layman….

    • dwdirwin says:

      20 years out of college and 4 kids later, I am too! Cracks me up what he thinks I still remember about biology- oh, and the fact that I’ve never taken an enology or viticulture course.

  4. sellick says:

    So even the Pacific rim the snow falls softly. This makes really good sense of a hibernation season that I´ve struggling to understand in Spanish from my colleagues in Bodega & Viñedos Valederiz in Ribero del Duero, on high Castillian meseta. Coincidentally I am also pruning and training a sprouting nine year old in a fatherly manner. Which is easier? Lifespans are similar.

  5. dwdirwin says:

    According to my husband who is the one tending the vines, he says the vines are easier as they cannot talk or fight back. However, I must add, for me, vines are not as much fun even with all of the aggravation accompanying children 🙂

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