Keeping Up with the Vineyard: Bud Break 2016

Jesse Vineyard.jpg
First signs of bud break are happening earlier than ever here in the Livermore Valley! As you probably guessed from the name, bud break is the first phase in the vineyard growth cycle where the tiny buds on the vine start to swell and leaf. The remaining stages of the cycle include flowering, fruit set, veraison and harvest.The length of the growth process is variable depending on the location, weather and grape variety. It’s always an exciting time of the year at Ruby Hill Winery when the first signs of green start to appear in the vineyard!
Our Nebbiolo was the first to break in early February. Ironically, even though it was the first to break, Nebbiolo is traditionally the last grape we bring in for harvest. Our winemaker, Jesse Plautz, defines bud break when 50% of the buds leaf in the given lot. Once bud break transpires by this definition, Jesse can nearly predict when harvest is going to occur!
Although bud break is a very exciting time in the vineyard, it also a period of great risk. In order to prevent our vines from facing weather damage, Ruby Hill Winery chooses to prune toward the end of winter. If the vines are pruned too early, frost can damage the remaining tissues and heavy winds can even break the buds. As of today, our Petite Sirah, Chardonnay, Sauvignon Blanc, Sangiovese and Petite Verdot have made it through bud break! In the next few weeks we should start seeing break in the Zinfandel and Cabernet blocks. So far we are off to fantastic start for growing season!