Warm, dry and still. Rain = 78 mm. Temp = 19.7 degrees C.
This is the month where we pretend vintage is some distant event at some obscure time off in the future and everything will go well.
This is also the month where most of the vineyard passes through veraison¬† (or colour change) as the bunches soften and begin the accumulation of sugars and the displacement of acids through to full ripeness. It is an exciting and busy time as we begin to prepare for vintage and do what we can to lessen the impact of bird damage on the ripening fruit.
Presses and tractors will be serviced and the inventory of hand picking shears, buckets and band aids is attended to. By about the second week, we begin taking samples of the Pinot Noir for analysis to determine the picking date for our Chirac fizz which is normally ready for harvest by the first week in March.
The mean irrigation schedule is eased off until the vines are experiencing a controlled moisture deficit and spraying of sulfur for powdery mildew ceases. In effect the vines, unlike us, are coasting into vintage readiness.
If we plan to plant a cover crop of cereals between the vine rows to improve the organic status of the vineyard, this is when it happens. It's hold your breath time before the annual vintage plunge.