The vineyards are alive! After a long winter dormancy, signs of life abound and the cycle begins again.
This is one of the most exciting times in the vineyards–the beginning of the next vintage. The buds popping up all over the place now will develop into canes which will eventually bare the fruit. Don’t take my word for it, it is front page news in Sonoma. In between the rows, cover crops which supply the vine with nitrogen and other nutrients the natural way, are growing too.
Now is also a time of danger, for the young buds are susceptible to frost damage. Temperatures that dip below the freezing point cause frost that will burn the young buds. Everyone is watchful of the thermometers and are on alert. Vineyards on hillsides are less vulnerable because frost flows downhill, like water. Some vineyards are ready with a host of frost protection measures, from wind machines which circulate warmer air down with the colder air and increase the temperature, to heaters and overhead sprinklers. Some, like our grower, Chris, cut down the cover crop to allow the frost to flow downhill. It’s a trade off, says Chris, because the bees that made the cover crop their home and have been busy pollinating the pluots nearby will have to find a new home. I am sure they will manage.
Chris also has owl boxes around the vineyard. The owls take care of the gophers which seem to come out once the cover crop is mowed. Not all of these safety measures are 100% gaurentee but we do what we can. In any case, this is an exciting time. I have been getting updates on frost from my weather widget and from Chris. A few more weeks and we will be over the frost hump and on to the next stage, bloom. In the mean time, 2009 looks like it is off to a good start.