Spring brings bud break to Wedding Oak Winery vineyards

4th Apr 2016 @ 13:09 by Matt

Spring has definitely sprung across Texas. We see it with the wildflowers that gloriously carpet the state, and we see it in our vineyards too. A sure sign of spring, “bud break” has occurred among the grapevines in our estate High Valley Vineyard. The buds of white grape varieties of like Viognier and Marsanne progress earlier than red grape varieties, and have already begun their season of growth. Mid-season varieties Syrah and Grenache are just beginning to break bud, and our late bud breaking varieties of Roussanne and Mourvèdre will break bud within the next 5 to 7 days.

It is a beautiful, busy, and precarious time in the vineyard.

Bud break is called for a particular variety when 50% of the total number of buds retained at pruning have broken, and started to grow. This begins the phenological growth process of the grapevines, with each step triggering vineyard management activities. White vinifera grape varieties typically bud break before red grape varieties. There are a few exceptions, for example our late bud breaking white variety Roussanne breaks bud after our early red variety Syrah in this location.

Early season bud break white grape varieties are more susceptible to late spring frost, especially here in the Texas Hill Country. Many grape growers in this area grow red grape varieties or late bud break white varieties to avoid losses to late spring frost. Some growers have invested in wind machines that can, in most cases, reduce risk by keeping cold air from settling in the vineyard.

Growers, like me, have many sleepless nights that stretch from bud break to the date of the average last frost at their vineyard site. That’s 4 to 6 weeks of weather-worry induced insomnia. During the early spring we also have risk of hail and wind damage in our vineyards. If the vines make it through the spring without incident, we move on to the challenges of keeping the vines healthy during the long, hot summer.

Watch my “Winemakers Minute” to see what is happening with our vines this spring in our High Valley Vineyard in San Saba County: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6I9bDjlKINU&sns=em