With warmer weather, bud break comes quickly. The tiny buds swell and then quickly reveal small, fuzzy, green leaves as the shoot primordia begin to elongate. These shoot primordia will become fully developed shoots over the next few weeks!
Although the exact timing of bud break varies from location to location and from year to year, cooler growing areas can have bud break as late as May; warmer regions as early as March. Either way, bud break officially starts the new vintage for the vines!
After several months of dormancy, the first signs of the new vintage begin to show in March (in temperate to warm climates). The fresh pruning wounds begin to “bleed.” This initial sap flow is triggered by rising temperatures. Shortly after the bleeding stops, the buds will begin to swell.
February is still a relatively quiet time in the vineyard. Pruning continues in warm climates while in cold climates it may not begin until March or later. This is primarily due to the risk of winter bud kill. Different varieties have different tolerances for cold. February, in the northern hemisphere, has historically been the coldest month in the calendar year and a cause for worry.
WSG launches “Vine to Wine,” an exciting, new blog series that will chronicle what is happening in the vineyard and in the winery each and every month of the calendar year. Nova Cadamatre, MW and winemaker, will author these authoritative and detailed posts drawing upon her studies (Cornell Viticulture and Enology graduate) as well as her winemaking experience in California, China and the Finger Lakes.
Each “Vine to Wine” installment will detail that month’s vineyard and winery tasks with deep dives into a particular grape growing or wine making topic such as pruning methods and training systems or barrel aging and fermentation vessels.
The series is designed to give wine students and educators an opportunity to develop or hone their technical savvy.
January is a very quiet time for the winery in the northern hemisphere. It is the in between time when the last vintage is quietly waiting in maturation and the next vintage has yet to start. In cold climates, all eyes are still on the weather to ensure that the depths of winter do not bring damage to the dormant buds. The buds hold the entire shoot and cluster primordia (more on this in February’s post) for the new vintage and each variety has a different tolerance to the cold… so monitoring the risk of damage is very important.