Unexpected Role of Wind

Jul 1st, 2020
Winds that blow through the vineyard, like the other components of our unique terroir, have a definitive impact on the wine produced. The winds can have both positive and negative impacts on the vineyard depending on which season, the direction, and the velocity. It might be a gentle cooling breeze during late harvest to the wind that howls through the Dragoon Valley in late spring. Wind plays a role in the vineyard and ultimately the wine. 

It was intriguing to learn about and experience the power of the Mistral (the “boss”) in the Rhone River Valley. These strong winds play an intense role in the vineyards along the Rhone River. The winds originate in the Alps and roar through the valley at up to 100 miles per hour all the way from Lyon to the Mediterranean. In the spring they can blow off the tender buds devastating grape production but, in the weeks, leading up to harvest they can assist in drying out the vineyard after summer rainstorms reducing mildew. Or in Southern France, the winds blow away the clouds allowing the sun to ripen grapes. 

LDV Winery is located at 5,000’ elevation in the Chiricahua Foothills. Our prevailing wind is from the southwest. Both the altitude and the vineyard’s location on the mountain lies in the path of mountain generated winds. They can be quite strong in the spring during budding and flowering. The winds can impact our crop load and fruit quality. During the ripening season of late summer, the storms that form over the 10,000-foot Chiricahua Mountains can quickly turn our prevailing winds from westerly to easterly bringing the cool mountain air into the vineyard. At this time of year, these winds slow down ripening which helps to build grape flavor and character.

Complicating Arizona’s wine grape-growing is the monsoon season that coincides with ripening just a few weeks away from harvest. Monsoon storms can bring heavy rains, strong winds, and hail. The potential of hail is the most critical because it can damage the canopy as well as destroy the grape clusters. 

So much of wine grape growing is out of our hands. Mother nature is nurturing and cruel at times.