Bud break at Sierra Vintners’ wineries

As the weather warms, the vineyards begin to wake up from their dormancy and green shoots “break” through to begin their growth cycle. “Alas, the vines have beaten me to spring break,” says Naggiar’s winemaker Derek Irwin.

“The vines have been whooping it up,” he adds. “We are 2-3 weeks ahead of schedule, which on the upside, means an earlier- than-normal harvest, but on the downside, a longer time that the vines are vulnerable to frost. If the weather keeps up, this has the potential to be a really good harvest.”

Grape growers remain concerned about the drought and are responding with more precise irrigation, among other practices. It will require vigilance, and a low-yield, high- quality harvest is predicted.

Winemakers benefitted from a record harvest last year, thanks to good weather. The state’s crush report says 4.23 million tons of wine grapes were crushed last year, up 5 percent from 4.02 million tons in 2012. Two back-to-back years of large harvests will help provide a cushion for this year.

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