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Temecula Valley Vineyards See Early Budbreak

Wednesday, February 25th, 2015

Despite the abnormally wet December and SNOW (!) in January, winter just didn’t last long enough in Temecula Valley’s wine country to keep spring at bay.

“We thought last year was early”, said Steve Andrews, Oak Mountain Winery’s owner and winemaker, “but we’re already seeing some “pushing” on our hillside vineyards”.  And “pushing” leads to budbreak, which is exactly what JD Harkey, of Drake Enterprises, a local farm management company, reported today.  JD shared the photo above, showing actual bud- break on a head-pruned Zinfandel vine he saw just this morning.

“It’s the earliest budbreak I’ve ever seen”, said Harkey.  “It’s going to be an interesting harvest!”

While delaying pruning as long as possible – sometimes into January and early February – often results in later budbreak, this year is proving challenging for local vineyard managers.  An early budbreak can be devastating to a vineyard if a late spring frost comes along, particularly if the buds have begun to flower, which is the pre-cursor to fruit set.

We were lucky last year, which was also a record breaker for early bud break here in Temecula.  We were thankful for a nice, long and temperate spring season that allowed the fruit to develop fully and evenly throughout the valley.  And while we all know that Mother Nature does what she wills, we’re hoping she slows things down a bit.  We want more winter!

 

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Early Spring in Temecula Valley: What is bud break?

Thursday, March 29th, 2012

Bud break is the first stage of growth for a wine grape.  Every grape in the Northern Hemisphere begins its annual growth cycle around March.  This growth process occurs over a number of days and the length is determined by the grape variety, location, and weather.  It’s always an exciting time when the first sign of green begins emerging in the vineyards!

Bud break begins when the tiny buds on the vine start to swell.  What’s interesting to note is that these buds actually appear in the summer of the previous growth cycle – they are green and covered in scales.  During winter, the buds go dormant and brown and in the spring, they begin to sprout green shoots and finally, grape leaves.

In warm climates like Temecula Valley, it takes about four weeks until the growth of the shoots start to rapidly accelerate, with the tendrils growing an average of one inch per day.

 

Check out this grape growth chart to explain the stages of bud break:

 

  Growth Stage 1 – Sprouting – brown “wool” clearly visible
  Growth Stage 2 – Beginning of bud break – green shoot tips just visible
  Growth Stage 3 – Bud break – green shoot tips clearly visible
  Growth Stage 4 – Bud break – green shoot tips slightly opened
  Growth Stage 5 – Leaf development – some leaves unfurl
*Credit for the bud break chart and info goes to Janice Schmidt, a UC Davis trained enologist.

 

Here’s some Temecula Valley bud break beauty snapshots, courtesy of Falkner Winery.  Happy early spring from wine country!

 

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