El Nino wasn't the biblical downpour some forecasts predicted, but we did get significantly more rainfall than the previous two drought-stricken winters. The result is a vineyard full of well-watered vines poised for a vigorous year of growth.
The water we received this winter is also evident as we prune the vines. For the first time in the past several years, the vines reveal moisture at each cutting site as we prune the shoots. A definite good sign.
Budbreak signals the official start of the growing season, and a typical budbreak date for us at Collier Falls is the first or second week in March. This year we didn't see budbreak until the last week in March, but that was shortly followed by a week of 80 degree temperatures that kickstarted growth.
Temperatures have cooled and rain has returned this week to Sonoma County, but that brief heat spell we encountered was enough to essentially put the growing season back on schedule despite the late start.
The next milestone in the vineyard will be flowering, immediately followed by fruit set. That stage is typically 45-60 days after the first signs of budbreak, depending on the weather. Memorial Day is our usual target date. We'll keep you posted as the growing season unfolds!