It's springtime in the vineyard! It is such an exciting time. Seeing leaves return and the buds develop gives us hope for the future. Fruit trees are coming into bloom and the bees are buzzing around. Life has returned in abundance. Here's a picture of our orange tree with blossoms we use for the Orange Blossom dessert wine.
I'd like to say this was the time to relax and watch the fruit develop but it's actually the time when critical decisions in the vineyard are happening.
Shoot-thinning takes place soon, we are shaping the vine and fixing any pruning errors. It is all in the timing–if you do it too early, you will be doing it again.
Then there are the things out of our control, like budbreak. If it is too cold or hot, rainy, or windy, buds can shatter and thereby destroy a good harvest. If budbreak is late, we face a late harvest, which makes the grapes more susceptible to heat spikes and fall rains.
Next comes leaf pulling. We thin the leaves for additional airflow. Some leaves are left on the vines for shade, depending on the orientation of the vines to the sun, variety, etc. Like every other spring task in the vineyard, this is another time-consuming effort.
Lastly is topping, when longer shoots are trimmed back so that all are the same length. Aside from beautifying the vineyard, this is beneficial to vine growth and the grape harvest.
There is no doubt it is hard work but winemakers love spring. It is the time of transformation, when the new vintage begins to express itself. Spring is butterflies and enjoying the feel of sun on your face. It is BBQs after a long day caring for the budding vines. It is dirt under your fingers and the thrill of harvest in the making. It is why we make wine.