After a cold, soaking-wet winter that will go down in the record books, the vineyard soils began to dry and warm last month, signaling to the grapevines that it was time to wake from their winter slumber. Bud break in the vineyards began in mid-March to start the 2017 growing season--a welcome return to normalcy after a string of early bud breaks.
Chardonnay grapevines in the cooler Russian River Valley pushed buds first around March 13, almost simultaneously with our estate Malbec and Petit Verdot in Alexander Valley. Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon vineyards awoke from dormancy before the end of the month, around March 27.
What is significant this spring is the increased growth of cover crop between the vines. That crop is growing exceptionally well due in part to the swell of water. Because the grapevines have plenty of underground water supply, their baby shoots are growing quickly too. But if the weather cools, the growth of the shoots will slow as well.
Join Winemaker Rob Davis for a Facebook Live video chat on May 10, as he discusses the progress of the 2017 vintage, from winter pruning and vineyard flooding to bud break and flowering.