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the vineyard cycle

05 October 2023

Are you curious to learn more about the world of winemaking and get a closer look at what an entire year in the vineyard entails? We're excited to take you on a journey into viticulture and share insights about the annual growth cycle of the vine and the timing of the most common vineyard tasks.

The Vineyard Cycle Maison Saint Aix Intro
The Vineyard Cycle Maison Saint Aix Winter Dormency

winter dormancy

From December to March in the Northern Hemisphere, the vineyard undergoes a transformative period of winter dormancy. As temperatures drop, the growing season ends, and a period of winter dormancy begins. Grapevines shed their leaves, forming woody canes, while underground, their reserves of carbohydrates are stored in the roots. In continental climates, the threat of frost necessitates protective measures, but at Maison Saint Aix, we fortunately don't have to worry about that. Cold winter temperatures, in fact, are beneficial in guarding against spring frost. During this season, winter pruning also takes place, carried out by our brave workers.

The Vineyard Cycle Maison Saint Aix Budburst


Budburst, occurring in the Northern Hemisphere from March to April, is a crucial period as it marks the awakening of the vine from its winter dormancy and the start of the growing season. During this period, small buds on the vine break open, revealing delicate shoots that will grow into leaves and, eventually, grape clusters. The timing of budburst hinges on mean daily temperatures exceeding 10°C, with early-budding grape varieties like Chardonnay and Pinot Noir requiring less warmth than late-budding varieties like Cabernet Sauvignon. At Maison Saint Aix, our AIX Rosé grapes represent a blend of both early and late bud-bearers, with Grenache taking the lead. Typically, budburst commences at Maison Saint Aix in mid-April. New shoots can be killed by spring frosts, significantly reducing yields, particularly for early-budding varieties.

The Vineyard Cycle Maison Saint Aix Early Shoot and Leave Growth V2

early shoot and leaf growth

From March to May in the Northern Hemisphere, the vineyard enters a phase of rapid growth until the vine flowers. Initially fueled by the vine's stored carbohydrate reserves from winter, the maturing leaves take over through photosynthesis. This period demands ample water and nutrients for the vine's early-season needs. Tying shoots to the trellis to maintain an open canopy is a common practice. At Maison Saint Aix, our focus shifts to caring for the vineyard soil, checking vine vigor, eliminating weeds, and improving soil conditions. We conduct green pruning to ensure optimal lighting and airflow for the grape clusters.

The Vineyard Cycle Maison Saint Aix Flowering and Fruit set

flowering and fruit set

It's time for the phase of flowering and fruit set in the Northern Hemisphere from May to June. To ensure successful pollination, we need warm, sunny days with minimal rain. Not every flower becomes a grape, and sometimes we see "coulure" when too many flowers don't fertilize or "millerandages," resulting in small, seedless grapes due to cold or rainy weather during pollination. This phase is crucial at Maison Saint Aix, with our Grenache grapes being sensitive to "coulure." We keep a close eye on weather conditions and vine health, as the vines are very sensitive during this phase.

The Vineyard Cycle Maison Saint Aix Véraison and Berry Ripening

véraison and berry ripening

After fruit set, there is a period of six to eight weeks during which the grapes start to grow. This occurs between July and September in the Northern Hemisphere. Both black and white grapes are green at this stage, and the grapes feel hard. Véraison marks the crucial moment when grapes begin to ripen. The grape skins transform: black varieties shift from red to rich purple, while white varieties turn translucent and golden. Between véraison and harvest, grapes swell and fill with water. During ripening, grape sugar levels rise, and the acid levels drop. Colour pigments and flavour compounds also accumulate at this time, and tannins develop. Warm and sunny conditions are ideal. If required, summer pruning and/or green harvesting may take place.

The Vineyard Cycle Maison Saint Aix Harvest V2


The harvest, the final chapter in 'The Vineyard Cycle', unfolds between September and October in the Northern Hemisphere. Ideally, this period should be dry, as excess rainfall prior to harvest can cause grapes to swell, diluting their juice, and elevate the risk of rot due to damp conditions.At Maison Saint Aix, our harvest typically commences in early September and spans about four weeks to bring in the grapes from our 75-hectare domaine. We harvest in the early morning hours before dawn, ensuring the grapes' optimal freshness, delicate aromas, and reduced risk of oxidation.

And with the harvest complete, the vineyard cycle returns to winter dormancy once more, ready to awaken anew in the coming year.

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