Cycle of the vine
A large part of the success of Cava is due to the utmost care and attention given to all the phases of viticulture. From the beginning of winter dormancy to the final harvest, the vine must complete a fascinating cycle which we are now going on to discover.
L eaves start to fall from November and the vine starts its dormancy phase.
Cold will allow the plant to enter a resting period which will last until the month of March. During this time, the vine stores its reserves in the trunk and roots of the vine. The plant has lost all its leaves and is getting ready for winter. This is the time for pruning.
W inter dormancy is the ideal period for pruning.
Pruning has mainly two aims. On the one hand, the idea is to be able to balance the future grape yield and on the other, to adapt and prepare the plant for harvest (in its natural state, the grapevine is a creeper and its branches called tendrils, may reach 30 metres length). Pruning will limit the development of the plant and will help control the quality and quantity of the grapes. Depending on the variety of grape pruning can be done in several different ways.
Weeping of the vines
In spring, sap begins to flow, initiating the activity of the plant and awakening it from winter dormancy.
As the temperature of the soil rises, hormones contained in the roots start to activate the metabolism of the plant. The flow of sap from the roots to the aerial parts of the plant begins, as well as the growth of the buds which will give place to the leaves and the fruit. The plant will start to grow thanks to the reserves accumulated in the roots and the trunk, as given the fact that at this time the plant has no leaves, it is unable to carry out photosynthesis.
T he plant begins to show the first signs of growth.
The buds develop. A tendril with several leaves will sprout from each bud. These leaves will be able to photosynthesize. The object of photosynthesis is to transform the CO2 from the air, by capturing sunlight and its energy, into nutrients for the plant and the future grapes.
Blossoming and setting
B lossoming takes place in spring and is very important as it determines the volume of the harvest.
This is the moment in the cycle of the grapevine when the flowers open up awaiting pollination by the wind and insects. Once the flower is pollinated, it will start to develop the grape. This phenomenon called setting is the transformation of flower into fruit. This will normally take place 2 to 3 weeks after blossoming.
T akes place in spring when the tendrils are developed and normally consists in leaving a fixed number of tendrils per vine.
What is achieved with green pruning is to limit the surface of canopy exposed to the sun and at the same time leave a certain number of bunches per vine in order to improve the quality of the grape. It can be done either manually or mechanically, eliminating the leaves closest to the cluster.
D uring the summer the grapes start to ripen. The moment in which the skin of the grape starts to change color is called: Veraison.
Veraison takes place at the end of July beginning of August. At that moment the grape will change colour (from green to yellow for white varieties or green to red in red varieties). The plant concentrates all its nutrients in the bunches.
The time of harvest is determined when the grape reaches an optimum sugar and acidity balance.
Ripening is different for each variety. For this reason, the different grape varieties cannot be harvested at the same time. For Cava, harvest starts with Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, followed by Macabeo, Xarel.lo and finally Parellada.
Harvest can be carried out either manually or mechanically.
After harvest at the end of the summer, beginning of autumn, the plant once again loses its leaves starting a new annual cycle.