Time for a Bud Break
Small, tightly packed pink petals about to bud in the spring from a grape vine

No, I'm not talking about grabbing a beer after work. 

I'm talking about something that happens in Wine Country. It happens year after year after year, and yet never ceases to excite me. Kinda like birthdays and holidays that way.  

Bud break is when hibernating grapevines awaken.  Rows of lifeless-looking sticks sprout colorful pods, foretelling impending green lushness.  This year, much like last, warm weather in January and February has vintners forecasting an early start to the growing season.  In 2015, most California wine regions had already announced buds in the vineyards by March 10.  In particularly warm Temecula Valley, the southernmost of California's great wine regions, the first buds pushed out on February 25.  That was the earliest date in recollection for more than one seasoned wine grape farmer. 

For vintners, an early bud break can be problematic.  It increases the likelihood that a damaging frost could set in when grapevines are at their most vulnerable.  It could expose the early bloom to high winds and heavy rains.  It can lead to a shorter growing season, resulting in less of the desirable "hang time" that can distinguish a harvest as particularly noteworthy.  

Of course, when a colder-than-normal winter delays bud break, vintners cringe too.  Or when it's too windy/cold/hot/wet/dry at any time before/during/after the growing season.  Farmers are like that.  They obsess about weather, and it seems like it never makes them happy.  But the vines press on, persevering through whatever Mother Nature throws their way, just as they always have.  And ultimately producing man's most celebrated elixir, just as they always have.

So join me - assuming you're not a flustered farmer - and celebrate the birth of the 2016 vintage the only rational way: by raising a glass of vino with a like-minded oenophile.


~ Kay Syrah

Wine Country Guru Gal


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