March 2008 Douro Insider

March in the Douro was certainly interesting enough because there was plenty of the variation that is so typical of the spring to keep everyone entertained.  The month got off to a bright, sunny and warm start although the clear skies ensured that the nights were still very cold.  This produced a bit of a scare when we woke up to a heavy frost on the morning of the 7th.  The concern stemmed from the fact that younger vines (before they enter into production) characteristically have earlier budburst than adult vines.  By this date there were already young vineyards with two or three leaves unrolled but fortunately the frost was not intense enough to damage the new shoots.  It is fair to say that at this time of the year frosts usually only occur on the cooler high ground, where budburst of course comes later on.  However, if budburst progresses uphill faster than the risk of freezing temperatures tails off for the respective altitude, the possibility remains of a potentially dangerous combination occurring whereby frosts and green plant tissue are present simultaneously.  Frost damage of the primary shoots has serious implications for yield because, although the vines would still be able to burst again from the secondary buds, these back-up shoots are noticeably less fertile. Full Report

February 2008 Douro Insider

February brought a very welcome relief from the somewhat depressing winter weather that had preceded, with the heavy fog finally evaporating after all these weeks.  There was actually a very bright start to the month with fantastic blue skies and really quite warm sunshine, especially in the afternoons.  But, as we well know, clear skies also mean cold nights and there were still some frosty mornings.  Admittedly, the frost was quicker to melt away when it was no longer shrouded in fog but in any case consumption of firewood remained high across the Douro. Full Report

January 2008 Douro Insider

After an extremely cold spell over the festive season normality returned in January.  Some considerable rain finally came at the start of the year, and with it a welcome increase in temperatures.  Typically unsettled winter weather was definitely the flavour of the month with a little of everything – morning fogs, showers and also a bit of sun delivering quite pleasant daytime warmth.  Interspersed with all of this were some seriously blustery and rainy days with decent downpours and also a couple of really stormy winter nights bringing strong gusts and driving rain.  There was plenty of mud about but not enough to interfere with the machines that were cutting the terraces for this year’s new plantations.  Oddly enough, it appears that we still haven’t had sufficient water to germinate the cover crops yet, and these were markedly lagging in terms of their development.  It is unfortunate to note that from mid-January onwards the rain almost totally dried up and it seems that the drought may have returned. Full Report

Crafting one of life's great traditions