It has been a busy few weeks as we prepare for budburst of the grapevines and the between-row mowing and mildew-preventative spraying that will ensue. The string of March rains/hail storms finally relented, and beautiful spring to early summer-like days (albeit a bit chilly some mornings) followed, starting to bring the vines to life. We rapidly completed “winter pruning” of our primitivo and port vineyards in advance of budburst. In total, we logged over 120 hours over several weeks pruning our ~7 acres of grapes, which represents only the first of several times that each vine will be touched throughout the season.
Budburst was observed in our earliest pushing varieties (tinto cao in our “port” vineyard; muscat blanc which we use for eating/juice) on April 6, only to be greeted with light frost on the mornings of April 8 and 9. The extent of damage, if any, to these varietals is not yet clear, but cooler temperatures and a little April rain/clouds have nevertheless reined in early growth. Fortunately, our earliest pushing main varietal, barbera, had not pushed as of April 8/9 and indeed has not pushed as of this writing (April 15), though bud swell is evident, and budburst seems imminent. A couple of pictures showing the deceptive “calm before the storm” of our dormant 9-year-old barbera vines (10th “leaf”) just before budburst are posted as part of our “vineyard gallery”.
All in all, we’re looking at a later-than-average start to the growing season, but we’re in good shape with adequate winter rains and time to complete the necessary pre-season activities. We look forward with optimism to the coming growing season and fair wine competitions.