“Bud break” underway at Sierra Vintners wineries

This past week, buds began breaking in the vineyards at Sierra Vintners’ wineries, marking the start of the 2013 growing cycle.

The annual life-cycle of the vine lasts from early spring to late fall. Among Sierra Vintners wineries in our Sierra foothills, Naggiar Vineyards and Winery and Smith Vineyard both reported bud breaks, among others.

Montoliva reported being out in the fields, “pruning, mowing, fixing and trellising.”

Napa Valley wineries also are reporting bud breaks this week.

Last year was a bountiful harvest for Sierra Vintners’ wineries, as we reported previously in “Good Times Return to Winemaking.” It brought a record crush throughout California wine growing regions.

This past weekend we went on an Easter Egg hunt with our family in one of the vineyards and got a chance to closely observe the bud breaks. It was a glorious day.

For this winery, the timing of the bud break was about a week earlier than last year last year.

The lack of rainfall is raising some concerns, so the wineries could begin irrigating their vines (with drip irrigation) earlier than normal.

“If budbreak occurs too early, the young shoots may be vulnerable to frost damage during spring,” as Cal Wineries explains.

“However, if budbreak occurs too late, the grapes may not have enough time to fully ripen. The grower will also be in the uncomfortable position of deciding to let the grapes hang during the fall. Frost and rain may damage the crop at the end of the growing season.”

Sierra Vintners is part of the Sierra Foothills AVA (American Viticultural Area), which was established in 1987 on the western edge of the Sierra Nevada. The Sierra Foothills AVA is roughly 160 miles long, stretching from Yuba County in the north to Mariposa County in the south.

The region provides ideal growing conditions, resulting in wines of distinction. Vineyards are planted at elevations as low as 1,300 feet all the way up to 2,600.

Sierra Vintners produces an unusually wide variety of vines, boasting over 45 planted varietals, ranging from chardonnay, Merlot, Zinfandel, and cabernet Sauvignon to cabernet franc, Barbera, Sangiovese and tempranillo.

(photos: Above: Smith Vinyards; below, Naggiar)

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