The Grape Leaf
In many stories there is an unsung hero without which the story would never be resolved and the main hero would never save the day. Now I'm not saying that a cluster of grapes is anyone's version of Batman but in the vineyard we do have our own unsung hero, the grape leaf.
The truth is, the majority of what the vineyard team does revolves around the grape leaf. Sometime we are sampling them to see what nutrients are in the plants, we are constantly monitoring them to see if mites or leafhoppers are affecting their ability to photosynthesize and our crew is frequently going in to take off certain leaves in order to let in more air and sunlight to the fruit. We even monitor water stress by the look of the foliage and we control the canopy's power by hedging the shoot tips.
We focus so much time and energy on the leaves because the leaves are the true powerhouses behind tasty wine. It is the leaves that have the ability to capture sunlight using the green pigment called chlorophyll in order to generate the energy needed to transform carbon dioxide and water into sugar during the process of photosynthesis. This is why mature leaves are called the Sources, because they are the source of the energy for the plant. Grapes and immature leaves are considered Sinks because energy (sugars) produced by the sources are sunk into them so that they can grow and mature. All leaves begin their lives as Sinks because they need energy in order to build the internal machinery they will use to be a contributing member of the canopy. The leaf's job is to make sure that the clusters ripen and our job in the vineyard is to protect and help them to make our grapes perfect for the Winemakers.