March 21, 2008 It Must Be Spring!
As the first sleepy shoot tips poke their way out into the crisp spring air, we begin our journey towards Harvest 2008. Sunny days and high temperatures reaching the mid-seventies signal the end of a long and unusually cold winter.
This photograph was taken on Friday March 21, 2008 in our Mountain Top Chardonnay vineyard and are the very first buds to break on the ranch this year.
Since evening temperatures are still quite chilly and regularly drop into the high-thirties, the risk of frost damage to these delicate buds is especially high. Vineyard Manager David Orozco has not been getting much sleep. Instead, he spends his nights watching the temperature dial creep down and rushing turns on our frost protection, provided by overhead water sprinklers, whenever the temperature dips.
While our earliest grape varieties, Chardonnay and Viognier, are starting to grow, Merlot buds are just beginning to swell, and Cabernet Sauvignon vines have at least two more weeks before they will begin to bud out. Pruning is now finished, leaving just two buds per spur at regular intervals along the vine’s horizontal cordon. These 24 or so buds (the exact number varies depending on the soil type and grape variety) will produce one to two clusters of grapes each. The clusters will develop over the next six to eight weeks and will bloom some time in May. At that critical point in their development, the number of berries per cluster will be determined by ambient temperature and weather conditions. Until then, we can only imagine what Mother Nature may bring us this year.
Sally Johnson, winemaker