Today’s Wine Word: Budbreak


Better late than never! As you drive through Napa Valley, you’ll notice little bits of fragile, lovely green growth on the tough, woody vines – a sure sign of spring. 

The vines are like rose bushes – they drop all their leaves and go dormant after harvest. All you see in the winter months is the vine skeleton – they really look like their dead. But to me, even dormant vines have a special, craggy beauty. Just by looking, it’s hard to imagine they’d ever grow again, but low and behold, just like every year the buds of the dormant vines have swollen up and pushed out the first, tender new growth of the season. 

Normally, we look for bud break in mid March. But after a very wet, cold (by our standards!) winter the vines chose to sleep in this year and the first bits of pink and green growth appeared in early April.

So, the 2011 vintage is off to a late start. And, that’s neither good nor bad – it all depends upon what happens, weather-wise, between now and harvest, in the fall. A late beginning can mean a late harvest, which increases the chance of rain damage. But, a few weeks of really warm weather, and the vines catch right up!

So, what I’m saying is, it’s way too soon to have the slightest inkling about the 2011 vintage. Stay tuned…

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