Sunday, February 26, 2012

First Buds, First Gophers

Budbreak at Blue-Merle Vineyard.
Like the first kernel of popcorn that pops, the first bud on the 6th leaf Tempranillo vines has unfolded. Bud break has started in the vineyard, soon to be awash in a sea of light green. As with opening day of baseball,  there is so much hope and promise and anyone can win. This is the year of a great vintage, and why not?

Joe The Wino says "a gopher in February is worth 50 in June" and the gnarly varmints have been stirred by the heat wave the past week when it hit over 70 degrees in the vineyard, causing those buds to swell to great pregnancy.  The Queen caught her first gopher of the season this morning (the carcass discovered by Bluey who goes into Pointer Mode when there's a gopher trapped in the hole -- I shall spare our sensitive readers a photo), after pruning most of the vineyard herself while I was in France trying as many varieties of wine as I could (limited by the fact I was there on daytime job business, not a winetasting tour). The French wine industry is alive and well and producing some great, enjoyable wines, even for my pallet, this said after making my first trip to France since becoming a winemaker. I've inspected every vine, fine tuning the cuts, to make sure we do not overcrop -- the Queen tends to leave a few too many spurs, a few too many buds. Thoughtful pruning now can help down the road with canopy management (avoiding that jungle), mildew control and better grapes, just like weeding out a few gophers early in the season makes them easier to manage down the road.  If good wine is made in the vineyard, this is where it starts.