Awaiting Bud Break

Awaiting Bud Break

Something magical happens this time of year in the Napa Valley. The gray, sleepy vines around us transform into a sea of verdant green that creates a scene that is the definition of spring. But we’re getting ahead of ourselves. This green awakening kicks off with bud break, an event that is highly anticipated by winemakers and growers. 

Before Bud Break

Following harvest, each of our vineyards falls into a dormancy. Once the ground temperature consistently reaches below 50° F, the vines will stop circulating sap, and the leaves will fall leaving all the vineyards bare of any foliage. This period is the most opportune time for our vineyard workers to prune the vines and prepare for the new season. Pruning involves removing vine growth, specifically “shoots,” from the previous season. Napa vines seem to be the same size year after year because of this yearly process. By reducing the number of shoots on the vine, we can accurately predict yields and help the vines put more effort into the appropriate number of grape clusters that will form on each of these shoots. Much of this pruning must be done by hand, as each vine develops a little differently, and the process requires skill and practice that a machine cannot replicate. Pruning the shoots is a perfect coalesce of art and science as we set up the vineyards for the perfect start to a growing season.

What is Bud Break?

After pruning, the next step is the all-important “bud break.” What is bud break? As it sounds, the buds on each shoot burst open revealing the very first leaves, and the beginnings of the grape flowers. Eventually, the flowers will form, and each flower will become a single grape part of each cluster. Bud break typically happens right near the end of winter, when ground temperatures reach above 50° F consistently. There are many factors when it comes to predicting when bud break starts, and essentially when the growing season begins. Grape variety, soil composition, and general temperatures all affect when bud break can occur. In recent years, bud break typically begins mid to late February. As you read this, bud break may be happening at this very moment. 

What Happens Next?

These leafy green shoots are the start of a new vintage. Winemaker Jon Priest and his team will have many decisions to make to manage the growing buds and make sure the vine’s energy is appropriately concentrated. They’ll consider if and by how much to thin the shoots, how to allocate water, and how to manage the vineyard floor among other things.

Cheers to the kick off of a new growing season! We look forward to sharing these wines with you in the future.

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