It’s official, we have Bud Break in the vineyard! We started noticing isolated buds that were showing signs of opening a few days ago, but while the buds were awake, their leaves had not yet started to separate. But as of this afternoon, March 29th, we have universal Bud Break throughout the vineyard. All of the tiny buds are awake and some are even starting to unfurl their first leaves.
Bud Break is the single most exciting day of the year for a wine grape grower. It’s the official start of the new growing season, and of the vintage you will harvest about 180 days hence in the fall. And if this year’s Bud Break is any indication, 2014 is going to be a spectacular vintage. The dogs and I discovered our first open buds during a burst of sun that somehow managed to shine through our endless rain. And just as I was framing up a shot of a cane full of vibrant buds with Murphy seated in the background, a rainbow appeared in my camera lens! I snapped away, not sure if I’d capture it or not. But I did. I don’t know if I did it justice, but I hope there is enough there that you can appreciate the magic of a sudden rainbow on such an auspicious day.
The rainbow disappeared as quickly as it appeared. The time stamps on my photos tell me it lasted less than 32 seconds. Just that fast, another wave of storm clouds rolled in over the vineyard. The dogs and I barely got inside before the next cloud burst. Quicker still, the excitement of Bud Break is starting to make way for anxiety. The forecast calls for two nights next week in the low 30s, which is cold enough to damage our little green buds.
People like to think of vineyards as relaxing places. And mostly they are. But this time of year, grape farming can get pretty stressful. We awoke this morning to a foggy, frosty vineyard, which is scary considering how close we are to bud break. It was just 30F when we went out to feed the horses. Just a degree or two colder is enough to damage any green tissue on the vines.
When I checked the vines late yesterday, I noticed some of the buds are starting to show their colors. When they first open, the leaves of a grapevine are a vibrant lime green with some pinkish-tan hues around the edges. You can see those colors in this little bud, which means it’s ready to unfold.
The forecast calls for another warm afternoon in the 60s followed by a cold, clear night tonight. And so, we hold our collective breaths and hope the buds aren’t encouraged to open in the afternoon sun only to be bitten by another overnight frost.
I ran outside this morning at 9:57am to celebrate the arrival of spring. And this is what I found. The vineyard is full of fat buds like this one that are ready to break. Sometime in the next 2-3 days, we expect to see our first little green leaves. I will have my camera at the ready. More soon!
Dispatches From Our Farm and Vineyard in Southern Oregon