The taste of wine when the vines feelin’ fine.
Everything works better when it is under less stress. Plants and humans, for example, perform better when stress levels are managed accordingly and they both have multiple options to cope with environmental stress. Many people are taking some time to enjoy some nice wine or 2 during the covid-19 pandemic, interestingly many of us humans enjoy wine to destress, and the taste is key to the whole flavour experience of drinking wine. Well, the way the grapevine itself copes with environmental stress plays a key role in that taste.
Ever wondered what affects the way wine tastes or how to improve or enhance the taste of the wine you are trying are producing? Read on to explore some options. Grapevines can’t get up and move to the shade or swat the insects that are landing on them. They live their lives in the open and not only cope with the stress that comes with that, but they also need to grow good quality fruit. To cope with stress and grow requires energy. There is however only so much energy to go around. The vine won’t produce good quality fruit if it’s used all its energy to survive stress events.
The new climate norm is unpredictable. The future climate in any given wine region is uncertain at best. Environmental stress, “abiotic stress” and insect and disease stress, “biotic stress” need to be managed on a daily basis. How do you consistently and sustainably maintain or improve the quality of wine grapes in the face of increasingly persistent stress events? As growers we can help the plants cope. To be sustainable however we need to help without the use of toxic chemicals.
Sustainable growing is achieved by building the plants ongoing health. Sustainable plant health is why a great number of vineyards around the world rely on CropBioLife. This breakthrough product is owned and developed in Australia.
CropBioLife is an activated botanic extract blend containing flavonoids which is readily absorbed by the leaf. Flavonoids are part of critical chemical group called phenolic compounds, found in almost all plants. The flavonoids in CropBioLife naturally trigger the plants own processes to stimulate energy production and synthesise its own key phenolic compounds.
Vine and berry phenolics have been studied extensively for many years around the world. The importance of their role in the way a plant manages abiotic and biotic stress and their role in fruit quality is being better understood every season.
Leaf brix is an understated indicator of plant health. It’s a measure of sugars produced in the leaf and therefore a direct measure of photosynthesis. This thereby equates to available energy. The higher the brix reading the higher the energy the plant has to use. Energy is needed for all plant functions. Healthier plants with higher energy produce high quality fruit because they have the means to cope with stress without jeopardising their growth or fruit quality.
Brix is also a good indicator of CropBioLife’s effect on the vine health. A recent independent trial in the Napa Valley in California at a high value vineyard showed CropBioLife treatments delivered up to 300% higher leaf brix.
Have you noticed when one wine region has a good vintage it rarely extends to other wine regions? When a particular region or vineyard has a spectacular year and produces award-winning wines you can ask the vineyard manages why. The answer will almost certainly come down to vine health. Vine health, not just at harvest but through the entire growing season from the first bud burst and indeed even after harvest when energy is stored for next year’s buds. The perfect year is when the climate is ideal and there was minimal pressure from insects and disease.
The battle in the current world where climate instability causes unpredictable abiotic stress and decades of unsustainable toxic farming has caused resistant biotic stress, the focus needs to be on natural plant health. Plants have clearly evolved to handle these stress conditions or they would have died out long ago. We just need to give them the best possible chance to grow to their potential as naturally as we can.
The return to chemical free, natural farming practices has enjoyed a ground swell in recent years as the internet allows informed consumers to demand tox-free food sources. The knowledge on best practice methods and products like CropBioLife, that avoid toxic chemicals, is virtually only a google search away.
The challenge is how to wean our vines off reliance on toxic chemicals and reap the rewards of a sustainable healthy vine.
Human health and stress have been well researched for decades. We know a healthy person, physically fit and eating well, can handle stress far better than an unhealthy person. Lately research has been showing gut health and good nutrition improve our ability to cope with stress. Be it emotional, environmental (like a freezing day) or biological (like a flu).
Vine phenolic compounds have been attributed to important plant functions. Many of which are linked directly with plant stress management like UV resistance, cell wall strength and pathogen defense. Other phenolics relate to photosynthesis, nutrient uptake and metabolism. The symbiotic relationship between plant and soil microbes is also managed by phenolic compounds.
The soil around the roots is often referred to as the “stomach of the plant”. Plant health begins from the soil up. The soils micro ecology is critical to the plants ability to grow. Fungicides, pesticides and herbicides all have a detrimental effect on soil health. The use of them means you a literally shooting yourself in the foot in your battle for plant health.
The path to soil health is a two-way street. The soil relies just as much on the plant as the plant relies on the soil. Think of it as a cycle. The plant feeds the soil microbiology and the soil microbes deliver plant available nutrients the plant needs to grow and produce fruit.
In separate research conducted in Australia and New Zealand, CropBioLife was shown to improve soil health over a conventionally grown vineyard.
This brings us back to the significance of vine phenolics and energy.
The key to a vines optimum function is its ability to capture light energy and utilise this energy to create the chemical compounds it requires to grow and produce fruit. It doesn’t know we are going to make wine from that fruit. It’s trying to grow the seed capsule to give the next generation the best possible chance to grow. It therefore masses energy, in the form of sugars and nutrition, into that fruit.
The solar panel for this energy production is of course the leaf. Strong healthy leaves that don’t shrivel in the heat of the day and are not diseased will produce energy as long as they have light shining on them. If the leaves are struggling under abiotic or biotic stresses the plant can’t produce the energy it needs. It’s a downward spiral. As the plant gets weaker the stress affects it more.
CropBioLife has proven in the USA, Australia and New Zealand to mitigate heat stress and frost in grape vines. This result can be attributed to leaf health. Phenolics build cell strength and brix levels help with the loss of moisture and increase the freezing point of the leaf cells.
Climate instability is causing new stress events for vineyard managers. Wine varietals are specific to regions and climates. As climates in these regions become increasingly un reliable the vines need to be capable of meeting the challenge or the wine quality suffers.
Extremes of weather as well as UV light intensity affect the phenolic profile in the grape and that means taste and composition. Tests that increased the stresses in grape vines showed polyphenolic profile in the grape is significantly dependence on environmental conditions. What triggers the type and quantity of phenolic compounds in grapes is very complex.
Again, this is where CropBioLife adds value. It “levels the playing field” so that environmental impacts are minimised. Our data shows that the vines respond to a treatment of CropBioLife by adjusting phenolic production to optimise the grape and therefore the wine profile.
It a blind tasting trial in Australia, New Zealand and the USA, 97% of 130 wine makers chose the wine made from a trial block grown with CropBioLife through the season, as superior to the conventional block.
CropBioLife delivers activated flavonoids in the form of a natural foliar spray that can be blended into existing spray programs. Our customers and our trial result show major improvements in the health and stress resistance of grape vines. Healthy vines produce consistently great grapes. A stress resistant vineyard means stress free year for the grower and winemaker alike.