Terrible start to the season - three nights of below 0° temps, and one more predicted for the day after tomorrow. Ever wonder why champagne is so expensive? Because it's very difficult to grow grapes in this climate, though the resulting champagne can be awesome if we manage to bypass all the risks involved : late spring frost; coulure" (loss of fruit) and "millerandage" (incomplete development of the bunch) during the flowering; various diseases such as mildew, botrytis or oïdium; and damage from hailstorms in the summer, to name a few.
Although there is much we can do to fight these threats, there's not much we can do about freezing. Some winegrowers used to heat the vineyards with oil pots, but that is neither an economical nor ecological solution, so it is now quite rarely seen. One method used here are rapidly rotating sprinklers which provide a constant supply of liquid water to coat the grapevine buds and shoots. The continuously freezing water releases heat and raises the temperature of grapevine tissues.
Because a large volume of water is needed, the vineyards must be located near a water source, so unfortunaly for us this is not an option. Also, the system uses heavy gasoline fueled motors, so you really can't say it is ecological...
Here are some pictures I took this morning :
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