jamie goode's wine blog: A wild vine observed

Saturday, August 11, 2007

A wild vine observed

It's been one of those perfect summer days here in west London, following on from a similarly balmy, sunny day yesterday.

Wandering around early Friday evening there was a hummy, buzzy sort of atmosphere - a sense that something was about to happen; as if people were set on enjoying themselves in whatever form this enjoyment might take. A spirit of leisure was unleashed. And because we've waited so long for this summer feeling, and because there isn't a lot of summer left, there was a sense of urgency - that we must make the most of this now - added into the mix, which ramps the intensity a notch.

I took RTL for a long walk on Hounslow Heath this morning. It was beautiful, and even more so because the flight path into Heathrow wasn't directly overhead today. During the course of this excursion I did a double take as I found a grape vine growing up an oak tree (pictured). Of course, the natural habit of Vitis vinifera is as a woodland climber: it's specialized for this role, with its fast growth of narrow-girth shoots, tendrils, drought resistance and a root system that's extremely good at going deep and competing with established plants for resources of minerals and water.

Where the grapevine shoot finds a gap in the canopy of its host plant, the exposure to sunlight initiates the process of flower (and thus grape) formation. However, there weren't any noticeable fruit clusters on this 'wild' vine, which is most likely derived from a table grape used to being grown in much warmer, sunnier climates.

Then this afternoon I took the boys to play golf, in almost perfect conditions. Warm but not too hot, with a gentle breeze.

Another reason to be happy besides the late appearance of summer is that the football season began again today, and Svennis' City team won 2-0 away at West Ham.

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