Springtime Sprouts

Spring activity has been whipping through California for weeks, and I'm behind on my blogs! To catch up: Most of Napa and Sonomas vineyards have gone through budbreak in the last 4-6 weeks, roughly 3 weeks early. The sprouting of new growth from the dormant vines depends on the location, the type of grape, and the individual spot in the vineyard. In March, I was charged with checking in on Las Madres, while the owners were away.  This constituted me walking daily through the lower block (named Hulda and the one that always goes first) everyday asking myself "do these buds look more fuzzy than yesterday?" When new growth bursts through the protective layers of cell membrane, it is time for humans to protect that growth from freezing temperatures. Otherwise an entire vintage can be put into jeopardy before it has even had time to bloom. Frost protection methods are the subject of a whole 'nother post, but in summary, there are physical ways to warm the early dawn air, or enclose those little buds from the cold.  The more days that move on without activating some sort of protection is another day into the cycle of the year, and a relief from a very stressful time of the year. Luckily, the two weeks Marco, Camille and I watched the vineyard it was not matured enough or cold enough to put those protections into place, but it was a little snippet for us, full-time production workers, into the normal spring routine of vineyard management. So far, vines look great in Napa and Sonoma, and besides a continued state-wide drought, we are looking positively on this growing-season at this very early time of year.