With an unseasonably warm winter and little rain to speak of, budbreak has already begun in a few blocks at our Camp Meeting Ridge Estate vineyard on the extreme Sonoma Coast. Chardonnay tends to break a little earlier than Pinot Noir for us, however, there is new vegetation popping up in both block 4 (Chardonnay) and block 16 (Pinot Noir). Last year, budbreak started the first week of March, so we are a little ahead of 2013. The grapevines, which have been lying dormant all winter, are awakening to start a new season.
The vine uses energy it has stored throughout its dormancy period to push out primordial shoots, which are already formed within the bud. Once leaves sprout from the shoots, energy is produced through the process of photosynthesis, which is used to accelerate growth throughout the rest of the growing season.
A concern for many winegrowers at this time of year, especially when budbreak occurs early, is the threat of frost. Our Director of Viticulture, Matt Osgood, cautiously assures that frost is usually not an issue for us at elevations of 1,100 – 1,450 feet, and that the vineyard crew is at the ready and increasing their activity levels to begin shepherding the vines into the growing season.
This year we have affixed a time-lapse camera in the vineyard in order to film this process and we will bring that video to you this Spring.