While many view harvest as the most exciting time of year in Wine Country, Spring is also a season worth celebrating as it marks the start of the growing season for the grapevine. After months of chilly weather and bare vines, the first signs of life in the vineyard begin. It’s a beautiful time to be out in Wine Country! Days are getting warmer, and bud burst has begun, marking the official kick-off to an exciting few months, watching grapes go through several stages of growth before being harvested, pressed, and produced into the delicious wines that grace our tables year-round.
“It is bud break in the vineyard, early leaves are emerging after the winter slumber and much-needed rest that all vines require to produce great fruit for great wines,” explains Greg Pennyroyal, Vineyard Manager at Wilson Creek Winery, and Professor of Viticulture at Mt. San Jacinto College. “The vineyards are all starting to develop the beautiful emerald green of early spring.”
“The early ripening white varieties started pushing out around the middle of March, and many more have followed by this time,” continues Baily Winery owner and winemaker Phil Baily. “It’s always exciting to see the dormant vines spring to life, showing little ribbons of green along the vine rows. The next few weeks will see enormous growth, as the vines enter their most photogenic time. This is a great time to visit us!”
Owner and winemaker Nick Palumbo of Palumbo Family Vineyards compares the coming of Spring to the end of a long, restful sleep: “Our Winter pruning is done, the last of the winter storms have rolled thru (we hope!), the vines are yawning and stretching after their winter slumber, and the first few buds have started to pop. Cold mornings are keeping a few varieties in bed but some of the vineyards are reaching out as we keep a close eye on the weather. Not that we control that! Late frost can really change our growth and production, but we are lucky here in the Temecula Valley as that is rarely a problem.”
Not only are the vineyards vibrant with new life, some of Temecula Valley’s most delicious wines are flowing – bright, crisp white wines made from unique grapes like Albariño, Vermentino, Arneis, and Falanghina, gorgeous sparkling wines made in the same method as some of the best Champagnes, and rosés in all hues from pale salmon to deep magenta. Visitors to Temecula Valley can take in the stunning vineyard views at one of the many outdoor tasting areas, while enjoying the dreamy Southern California Spring weather and sipping a glass or two of world class wines.
Pennyroyal encourages wine and nature enthusiasts to look closely for the flowering taking place on the vines at this time.
“Grape flowers are very subtle, you will see them early in the season looking almost like tiny white stars in a new canopy,” he says. “Before opening up, the flower petals are held shut by a structure called the calyptra, which is like a little tight-fitting hat on the petals of the flowers. If you gently blow on them, they will pop off and float down to earth, a surprisingly entertaining pastime, especially after a glass of wine on of warm spring day.”
But so much more goes into managing our vineyards than meets the eye. They may look like they are thriving on their own; however careful attention must be paid every step of the way in order to ensure Temecula Valley wines maintain the quality levels wine lovers have come to expect when they visit.
“This time of the year the vines are experiencing their fastest growth rate, and rapidly go through the stages of bud break, flowering, fruit set, and then canopy development,” says Pennyroyal. “Just as when your children are going through their growth spurts, nutritional support is key in the vineyard. The rapid vine growth and fruit set require a well-balanced full spectrum of macro and micronutrients.”
And, while all of this work is happening, the countdown to the most exhilarating (and exhausting) time of year in a winemaker’s life – harvest – begins.
“As both a vintner and a winemaker, while many are looking at the vines, I am thinking ahead and already planning for harvest and the cellar space needed in the months to come. Exciting times for sure!” says Palumbo.
We encourage you to get out and about to visit Temecula Valley wineries this time of year. When you go, ask to speak to a winemaker, vineyard manager or worker, or even the knowledgeable tasting room staff. Pick their brain about what is going on in the vineyard right now. A glass of wine tastes so much better when you take the time to understand all that goes into producing it, from vine to grape to cellar to glass.
And, while you’re here, there may even be something more magical happening among the vines.
“There is a newly emerging branch of plant sciences called phytoacoustics, which is the study of plants’ ability to sense sound,” says Pennyroyal. “If this is true, I am confident that after a long winter of being alone the vines would love your company and will be listening for the sounds of laughter. We look forward to seeing you in the vineyard.”
Tags: southern california wineries, Temecula Valley Wine Country, temecula valley wineries, temecula wine, temecula wine country, temecula wine tasting, temecula wineries, temecula wines, Wilson Creek Winery & Vineyard, wine tasting temecula valley