Chapter 29

Winter Protection of Grapevines

Active Cold Temperature Management Strategies

Active protection methods are used to avoid or minimize cold winter temperatures include using wind machines, mulching, hilling up the vines, and bearing the vines with soil.

Wind Machines

One strategy for minimizing the risk of low winter temperatures is to heat the microclimate around vines using wind machines.

Hilling Up the Vines

Grafted grapevines that may be subject to cold damage during the winter may be hilled-up with soil to keep the scion (the portion above the graft union) alive. Snow is an excellent insulator but cannot be relied on in most areas. Hilling up the vines is commonly used in places like the Finger Lakes of New York and some Mid-Atlantic state vineyards. Hilling should be done prior to the onset of potential lethal weather.

Bearing Vines with Soil

Some growers bury their fruiting vines in the soil during the winter months to protect them from the freezing cold temperatures in the winter. It is best to bury the vines in late fall. Detach all of the canes from the trellis and tie the canes together, and carefully place them on their sides.

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