Just sharing a quick time lapse video from this evening taking in the rolling clouds and beautiful sun...
With the San Diego-like temperatures this past week (clear, sunny, mid 70's), the vines made a quick leap from bud break to a first showing of the clusters. The forecast for this week doesn't look like there will be much of a change, so we're probably going to see some significant growth this week.
What are the next tasks?
We'll begin the process of "suckering" this week to remove the shoots that have emerged from the trunk. This allows the vine to focus on putting energy into the shoots on the fruiting wire for this seasons production.
Next, we will do some shoot thinning to remove shoots that are too close to each other. The grape clusters need appropriate air drainage, so it is important that each shoot (bearing 2 clusters) has its own space. It is much easier to perform this task at this point in the season when you can use your fingers. As the shoots mature and harden off, pruning shears are required for removal, and the task becomes more difficult.
We will continue to post photos and updates as the 2013 season progresses, so be sure to check back to see where we are in the vineyard and cellar.
Just in time for the derby season.... "And They're Off!"
Yesterday (April 30th) marked the beginning of the growing season at Heart & Hands - bud break. While in some of the vineyard the buds continue to swell, a majority of the lower block is showing some green. Last year's bud break was much earlier, exposing us to frost risk. This year we can breathe a little easier knowing that we're only a few days away from the "last frost" date.
We're looking forward to a great 2013!
One of the first signs of season for the vine is the movement of sap. Stored in the trunk throughout the winter, the pruning cuts stimulate those juices moving upward. The vine wounds naturally heal themselves (but draw plenty of activity from the insect community) and the sap eventually begins to move toward the buds. Historically speaking, the sap from a grapevine has been used to treat everything from skin and eye diseases, to snake bites, or used as shampoo.
Despite the cooler spring temperatures (it was 25 today with a wind chill of 14), the vines seem to be on their own schedule with this sap movement. With the forecast later this week showcasing some temperatures a little more in line with this time of year (50's). Purely speculative, the vines may just be on a lunar schedule and shrug off these cooler temps to push through winter in order to get on with their job for the season.
We can hope that this is a sign of good weather to come over the next few weeks.
So we wrapped up pruning and tying trunks over a month ago and we were waiting for some "warmer" weather to begin tying canes to the fruiting wire. Normally, I like to tie canes once we get into the 40's and 50's because the canes bend easier and you have less issues with breakage. It also requires a little more dexterity than pruning and exposing those fingers to winter elements can sometimes be unbearable. Unfortunately, this winter decided to stick around a fair bit longer than in winter pasts (so much for that groundhog in Punxsutawney).
With the first day of spring arriving last week, we are hopeful that these winter temperatures are not going to be around much longer. We noticed much more chatting from the birds this past weekend and the vine canes are bending a little easier. Thus, we decided to get back on track in the vineyard and start to wrap up tying for the season. We expect to be done in the next couple of weeks, so keep your fingers crossed for spring-like temperatures.