It has begun!
Bud break for the growing season of harvest 2016 officially occurred on February 22nd in Carneros, Napa Valley and March 8th in Guenoc Valley, Middletown. This means that the vines have officially left dormancy and are actively growing. Hence, the chaos, anxiety, and excitement of the upcoming harvest has officially begun.
Not only is bud break the first phenological event of the grapevines in the growing season, it is indicative of how early harvest will actually happen. The sooner bud break occurs, the likelihood harvest will occur about that much faster, assuming the growing season is “normal.” Quite exciting stuff! This is where botany and knowledge of vineyard biology is important. A winemaker who no knowledge of viticulture is like a dog unable to smell. They can make due with other senses, but it severely hampers their ability to be a dog.
Nonetheless, leaves are emerging, clusters developing, and the vineyards clearly starting to look alive! As you can see, some clusters are getting quite big! Even the vines in Middletown, at the site of the #ValleyFire, are rebounding. Some rows did not escape damage, and are quite dead. But, the majority of the blocks are developing leaves, clusters, and tendrils! Of course, the determining factor will be fruit set and fruit quality upon harvest, but things are looking good.
So far, so exciting!