Viñedo viejo en brotación

Why the vineyards are sprouting earlier than usual in 2020?

Old vineyards, in addition to the many special characteristics, and the fact that have survived more than 60 years, teach us in years like 2020 a sample of their learning throughout the vegetable cycles. Today, April 13, 2020, we find in Ribera del Duero, one of the Best Spanish Wine Regions with Rioja, two good examples of the differences in behavior between an 8-year-old vineyard and one with more than 100.

Historical data tells us that in 2020, the vineyard sprouting has gone exactly 20 days ahead of the average of the last 38 years, but to understand why, let’s look at some data:

This table shows the average temperature from 1982 to 2012.

  Mars April
Temperatura media (°C) 7.7 9.9
Temperatura min. (°C) 2.7 4.6
Temperatura máx. (°C) 12.7 15.3
Precipitación (mm) 39 43

Data source:

In the following graph, we can see the data collected in our weather stations during the month of March 2020. We found during this month, an average temperature of 8.5ºC degrees and that compared to the 7.7ºC average in recent years gives us a difference of +0.8Cº.
Temperaturas medias de Marzo en nuestro viñedo

Temperature and pluviometry graph of March 2020 in Fuentecén, Burgos, Spain. Source: Weather stations installed across our vineyards.

Doing the same exercise during April, we can see that the average temperature of the 17 days of April was 11,4ºC, and comparing with the historical data we’ve got a difference of +1,5º. We have to take in account that the average temperature of aprol coresponds  to the whole month, and the data for 2020, corresponds to the first 17 days of april, date in wich this article was written. Probably by the 30th of April the difference will be even bigger.

Temperaturas medias de Abril en nuestro viñedo

Temperature and pluviometry graph of April 2020 in Fuentecén, Burgos, Spain. Source: Weather stations installed across our vineyards.


With these differences between the historical data and today, we are going to see how two vineyards are very different, but they are genetically very similar. The young vineyard was grafted 8 years ago with plant material from the old vineyard.

In this image we can see a young vineyard sprouting on April 13th, 2020.

Viñedo tempranillo con 8 años brotando

8 year old vineyard of Tempranillo (it is call Valdepeñas in California), sprouting on April 13th, 2020

On the other hand we see the state of progress of a strain of the same variety with more than 100 years. It has bulging buds and in some cases they begin to open, but it is many days behind on a younger plant.

Viñedo viejo en brotación

Viñedo viejo en brotación

Why is this behavior of old vineyards so interesting? To explain it, we are going to see an image that these days in France is very common.

Prevención del hielo en viñedo

Ice prevention in France for vineyards during the night.

In France we can see these prints more regularly than in Spain. Winegrowers use small bonfires to prevent negative temperatures on some specific nights. This practice is much less necessary with very old vineyards because their sprouting is later.  In next posts, we will see mechanisms to prevent ice.