Yeah - we are almost finished pruning the vineyard! The pruned vineyard still looks a bit bleak but clean and sunset is a beautiful time of day to be on top of the filter house overlooking the vineyard.
We have had some very warm weather followed by freezing weather! Once the sap starts running in the vines (from the warm temperatures), the vines are soon to bud. If they bud and then it freezes, the buds are killed and we lose fruit. There are secondary bud that can push forth from the plant but they tend to be sporadic, late and do not ripen with the rest of the fruit. This means the quality of the fruit at harvest is not as good.
The sap in our Roussanne, Aglianico and Montepulciano has started running! We are in a race against time because once the vines begin to bud, they are VERY fragile - just bumping the vines can cause the buds to fall off - again, we lose fruit. Normally, the vines break bud in the order listed above. One benefit to pruning is that it sets the vines back, so, if they are just about to bud, they can be delayed for as much as two weeks. That does not sound like long but it can mean the difference between a fantastic crop and losing the majority of your fruit - if there is a freeze.
In the picture below, you can see a small plant with buds that have already budded. This is a Montepulciano plant which is normally our latest bud breaking variety but, since it is a young plant it can't wait to see the world!
Thankfully, so far, it is just the small plants that have budded. These are plants that were replants - the original plant died for some reason and we replanted a new plant. Normally, they are about a year behind in growth, fruit load and fruit maturity.
It is amazing to think that in a couple of months, the whole vineyard will be green and the picture at the top of the post will be very much alive and growing as you can see in Vineyard - July 2012.