Bud break is typically the middle of March, but vintners are hoping it’s later this year.
Vintners say they’re worried frost will kill the buds and that the secondary buds that push out could pare the crop down by half.
For the uninitiated bud break is the beginning of the life cycle of the grapes. Tiny buds on the vine start to swell and eventually shoots begin to grow from the buds.
“It’s been an odd year,” said Adam Lee of Santa Rosa’s Siduri. “It’s been dry, warm during the days, but cooler in the mornings and evenings … the risk is we could get more frost.
Lee said he works with growers who oversee 200 acres of vines from Oregon to Santa Barbara, and they haven’t seen any signs of bud break yet.
Amanda Holstine, co-vintner of Husch Vineyards in Mendocino County, hasn’t seen any signs of bud break either. She works with 22 acres of vines at the winery in Philo and another 100 acres in Ukiah.
“We’re happy we haven’t see any sign of it but we’re prepared,” she said. “We’re checking our irrigation systems.”
Once there’s bud break, vintners will patrol the vines carefully. They’ll run their overhead sprinkler systems to combat frost, and Holstine is combat-ready.
“We’re certainly prepared when the buds decide to perk up and break out.”