Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Bud Break, Yes & No

I was talking to Ron Silva on my way to his vineyards, which are about 20 miles northeast of Lodi, and his crew had just finished disking every other row. As he puts it, "We're about two weeks behind Lodi Proper" with not only bud break but most every other benchmark during the grape growing year through harvest. I could tell from looking at the Mourvedre vineyard, still no real sign of bud break, though just feet away, the Grenache was showing some great color. Like many environmentally frienly and sustainable growers, Ron uses cover crop that, when disked under, serves as a natural fertilizer, not to mention the cool flowers.
Look at last week's blog. Belle Colline didn't show bud break. Now, one week later, most of this Petite Sirah is still sleeping, but I did find some early birds. This example is just one of every 10-15 vines stretching its early Spring arms. Remember, Belle Colline is about 20 miles south of Ron's vineyard, and on a 250 foot hill.
Now to Al Bechthold's 125'ish year old Cinsault. We're now about 20 miles west of Belle Colline on a dry farmed vineyard (never watered). Bud break is definitely happening here. I brought my nephew, Joey Baumgardner with me today. Before we got to our third stop of the morning, he was ready for a Jamba Juice run, but instead I told him not until I showed him another Lodi gem. Between the amazement over the age of this vineyard, the trunk's twists & turns, holes in their trunks I could stick my fist through caused by unknown generations of incredible growing seasons, then a grand owl soaring by our heads and landing next to where we stood...I had to remind him when it was Jamba time.
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Tuesday, March 24, 2009

Bud Break Yet?

I decided to sneak up on the vines to see if they had come out of their deep sleep. It was a unique feeling walking around the vines on the hilltop this morning. Except for a few curious birds, it was as quiet as any spring morning.
As we move through February and March, the vine pruning kicked into high gear. If you look closely, you can still see the cuttings lying in the rows. Markus Bokisch's crews were working hard, pruning last year's growth carefully to create the perfect balance for our 2009 harvest.
I looked at the vineyard pictures taken at this time last year and other than a little more maturity in the wood, and the rain that happened to be falling that day, it's hard to tell the difference. Bud break is happening in most vineyards around the appellation. The forecast over the next seven days is mid-70's, so I'm going to come out again next week to see the difference...I bet there's green in them thar hills. I'll post those pictures too so you can see.
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