A set of pictures has been doing rounds on the Internet for the past week. The pictures look amazing and are quite breathtaking actually. However, very few of you know what really happened. So, allow us to explain. What you are looking at are pictures of vineyards located in northern Italy that have been lit up using thousands of torches.
Why did they do so? The temperatures dropped below zero unexpectedly last week, and winemakers had to come up with means of keeping the vineyards from freezing. Lighting up thousands of torches was their preferred choice. This might seem counterintuitive considering that farmers actually work hard to make sure that fire stays away from the grape vines. However, the farmers had little choice when the temperatures were headed towards -9 degrees Celsius. Hundreds of torches were lit and spread up all over the vineyards to prevent vineyards from freezing.
The technique is not new and has been used by winemakers all over the world for the sake of creating air movement. This prevents frost pockets from coming to life. Emerging buds can sustain heavy damage if the temperature falls under -1 degree Celsius. The teams patrol the vineyards all night long and make sure that no fire is out thus mitigating the damage from the freezing temperatures.
The visual effect is a byproduct where you can witness about 300 torches over one hectare of vineyard. Winemakers are, on the other hand, more concerned with the warm air that these torches create because this could mean the difference between millions of euros in losses or an amazingly profitable harvest. The torches can increase the temperature by about three degrees Celsius.
Winemakers located in Alto Adige, South Tyrol, Val d’Orcia in Tuscany, and in Trentino, have all opted for this tried and tested method for keeping the vineyards from getting ruined during the freezing temperatures.