For the vines, that is! We got up at o'dark thirty the other day to do a "poudrage" on the vineyards that
are in flower. A "poudrage" is simply blowing powdered sulfur onto the vines to protect them against mildew, but also to help with fruit set. Grenache is a tricky varietal in that it often has problems with shatter. Shatter means that the fruit doesn't set. Often we'll have beautiful big bunches of flowers and then the tiny little grapes will just fall off after flowering. In 2010 many wineries in the southern Rhône lost up to 30% of their crops due to shatter. Powedered sulfur is supposed to help with that, keeping my fingers crossed that it will. That and the fact that the weather has been beautiful here, not much wind so maybe we'll be lucky and have a bumper crop this year!
We've done it only once before mostly due to the fact that it has to be perfectly still when you do the "poudrage" otherwise it just blows away, and the temps can't be above 27 degrees C for 24 hours after you do it or it creates sulfur gases and can burn the vegetation. This time we weather was perfect and as you can see the powder just hung over the vines. Here's to hoping for a bumper crop in 2011!
Note my high-tec gear to protect my nose and eyes, getting sulfur in either would be quite painful!! A pretty good self-portrait, don't you think??