For the last couple of weeks, we've been anxiously watching the little buds on our newly pruned vines, waiting for them to break open and form a beautiful bouquet of fresh green leaves, the first step in the vine cycle that will lead to harvestable fruit in the fall. As we’ve mentioned a “couple” of times, this is the first season our grapes will be harvested and turned into wine, and so we were understandably excited to get this growing season started!
Our vineyard manager, Ulises Valdez, waited until the last minute to prune the young vines in an attempt to postpone bud break and protect the delicate growth from the frost season. The leftover buds on the pruned vines began as tiny white bumps. As the days got warmer and spring rain fell, those bumps started to grow and swell until they looked like popcorn kernels.
The first time I saw one bud open, on April 4, I was ecstatic. "We've got bud break!" I shouted. But Clay, ever the pragmatist, felt we couldn't "call" it until 50 percent of the vines showed leaves. From that first moment to the 50 percent mark was about an hour, it seemed. Suddenly the entire vineyard was a sea of green.
Actually it took about six days of warm, sunny weather before Clay – on April 10 – declared official bud break. Now everything is open and stretching up to catch the sun's rays.
Our focus now shifts to instituting a spray program to address mildew (probably later this week), and keeping a vigilant watch over the new foliage to identify signs of any insect pests. Yesterday, we looked carefully and saw no evidence of mites and only a few thrips, which are tiny, slender, winged bugs that seem to love the flowers in the cover crop but aren't present in numbers that cause any concern.