budbreak

  • Budbreak & Bottling Go On

    March 25, 2020 11:46

    Budbreak & Bottling Go On

    We are all living in unusual times. The Shelter in Place order is active and most of the staff in the office is working from home-all except Jim who checks in every day. It is fitting since this is his childhood home. Our vineyards and winery come under the Food and Agriculture Sector critical infrastructure plan. Agriculture is considered essential, so the vineyard and cellar crews are kept busy at this time by finishing up pruning in the vineyards and bottling up the red wines scheduled for production.

    Winter turned officially to spring on March 19 and the vineyards are beginning to shake off dormancy and head into budbreak-the moment when the buds on the vine begin to soften. So, what does this mean? Let’s start with the importance of pruning and what it means to budbreak: when the vines are pruned in late fall and winter each cane produced is trimmed back to typically two buds-which are the production for the next vintage. There are several canes stemming (pardon the pun) from the vine. Those two buds begin to soften and develop as warmer weather comes along and here in Dry Creek Valley that usually happens by mid-March.

    Looking back at the beginning of vintage 2020, which begins with the rainy season, we had several inches of rain between November and January. February brought spring-like weather and not a drop of rain. As we see this month ending there is more rain on the way but likely totaling just about 2 inches. Mitch Blakeley, Vineyard Assistant (among other things-he’s family) told me we could use another 5-7 inches of rain so the vineyards, having had a dry spell, would get the necessary push to begin the growth cycle and invigorate the vines. It remains to be seen what we will receive in April or even May.

    Budbreak has begun in the younger vineyards-go figure, a growth spurt from the teenagers. Mitch also reported, “The venerable Mother Clone blocks, which are in their late 30s, are taking their time to begin the season. For instance, in the younger vines they are seeing 1-3 inches of growth-first leaf, shoots but very minimal changes in the established vines. Larger and deeper root zones for these allow them to access water and nutrients in a larger area which means the vines don’t have to push until later when groundwater depletes.”

    friends.red bottling

    In the cellar the 2018 red wines like our Mother Clone Zinfandel, Sangiovese, and friends.red are among the first of that vintage to be bottled up. Winemaker Montse Reece is very happy with the quality of the wines and recalls the vintage in her fact sheet notes: The winter brought plenty of rain to the vineyards. Perfect growing conditions followed during summer with even heat and a great environment providing extended ripening. Once harvested, the vintage brought medium tannins as well as higher levels of aromatics and flavors. We all look forward to sharing them upon release later this year.