Sun and sulfur

In the last post, I talked about a late frost in Langa at the end of April. Now I’m going to describe the exact opposite: sun, heat, drought. From the beginning of May up to today we have recorded 1-2 rainfalls of no importance and very high average temperatures. Summer started early and you can easily tell based on the nature which surrounds us.

Sunburnt tilia leaf


10 more days of sun are expected. Without water, the rivers in the area have become streams. If things continue like this, we’ll have a water emergency on our hands.


Burnt nebbiolo


Thanks to our clay-rich land, which can hold a lot of water, the vines haven’t suffered yet. In fact, they haven’t shown any major problems, even if some of the younger vines have some leaves that are starting to turn yellow.



Young nascetta leaves, yellow due to the excessive heat and lack of water


Another problem this year is powdery mildew, a fungal disease triggered by foehn winds. These winds hit the high parts of hills more easily and normally pop up again every few years. Langa farmers fear this fungus and the only remedy is sulfur applied in liquid form. On the plus side, we haven’t seen a trace of downy mildew, another fungus which is triggered by rain and humidity. I don’t think we’ll even see it this year.



My poor recently-planted birch tree with big problems



Another aspect not to underestimate is burns from the heat. Sunrays have never seemed so strong compared to this year. As a result, we’re trying to limit radiation with kaolin-based treatments – a white clay which reflects sunlight.



Leaves and bunches treated with kaolin to protect them from sunburn


I suspect that this year’s vintage will greatly depend on future rain. It’s a summer that seems to have started 10-15 days early and will probably stress out every type of farming. For this reason, biodynamic and organic actions with particular attention to the organic component of the land will take on a more import role for the future.