Vine Dormancy: 5 essential details for this vine life cycle phase

21 Dec 2023 / Viticulture

The vine life cycle, known as the phenological cycle of the vine, is a sequence of stages that begins in winter, during the dormancy phase, and concludes in the following winter dormancy. This cycle is a crucial annual process for the production of high-quality grapes, during which each stage plays a crucial role in shaping the grapes and the final quality of the wine.

After the harvest season when grapes are picked, the onset of colder weather marks the beginning of vine dormancy. Various physiological and biological changes then take place to ensure the plant's survival in the harsh winter conditions.

Discover here some details about what happens in the vine during this phase:

  1. Leaf Loss: In autumn, vines undergo a process called senescence, during which the leaves start changing color and eventually fall off. This is a natural process and an adaptation of the plant to conserve energy during winter, as the leaves are no longer needed for photosynthesis.
  2. Metabolism Reduction: The vine decreases its metabolic activities to conserve energy, with a reduction in respiration and growth-related activities, such as the production of new shoots and the elongation of branches.
  3. Reserve Accumulation: Before dormancy, the vine stores nutrients in the roots and stems, essential for the plant's future growth. Carbohydrates and other compounds are directed to parts of the plant that will be protected during winter.
  4. Cold Resistance: As temperatures drop, the vine develops greater resistance to cold through biochemical and physiological adaptations in cells, such as reducing the volume of water in tissues and increasing the concentration of solutes in cells.
  5. Dormancy Break: Dormancy break is influenced by the accumulation of chilling hours, where dormant buds begin preparing for budburst. This is a crucial period for grape production in the next season, as the end of dormancy determines the timing and uniformity of budding.

 The dormancy period is thus vital for the vine's life cycle, ensuring its survival and contributing significantly to the production of high-quality grapes and wines of great excellence.

Written by Aveleda