Snow comes early to Piedmont (and a nugget of wisdom from the past)

Snow came early to Piedmont wine country this year.

That’s a photo (above) taken on Friday, November 15 by Scarpa director Riikka Sukula. She shot it from her house in Serralunga d’Alba where, as she wrote on her Facebook, she and her family haven’t ever seen the snow come so early in the 15+ years they’ve lived there.

Across Italy last week, a cold front brought snow and unusually heavy rainfall. In Venice, residents were subjected to the worst acqua alta (the “high tide,” the city’s notorious but unavoidable yearly flooding) in a generation. Not since 1966 had they experienced such destructive flood waters.

It’s too early to predict what effect the early winter will have on the 2020 vegetative cycle and harvest. The big question is when will the spring arrive. If an early winter brings an early spring, then the growing cycle could begin earlier than usual.

That’s not a bad thing. But it’s all part of a bigger picture of factors that will determine the yield and quality of the 2020 harvest.

The photo above brought to mind a nugget of wisdom often repeated by the older growers in Langa and Monferrato.

The crus, the top growing sites, they’ll tell you, can always be identified by noting where the snow melts first. Historically and traditionally, growers would use the melting snow as a guide for assessing the quality (and value) of the fruit.

If you travel to Piedmont wine country as the snow begins to melt, you’ll see it’s easy to pick out the sites were exposure is best.

We’ll be following and reporting on the weather here on the Scarpa blog throughout the year. Stay tuned for updates and thanks for being here.

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