As with most of our food and drink, we buy it at the market with little to no thought about how it got there. It’s been interesting for us to understand wine as an agricultural product; grapes grown in vineyards that are planted, tended with care, harvested and then taken through a process that culminates as the wine you enjoy in your glass.
If you visit the wine country this time of year, it’s glorious. While vines have been pruned in January, so are generally still without leaves, in between the rows of vines are beautiful colors of green grass and yellow mustard.
Grapes start their annual cycle in the spring with bud break. While this stage begins around March, when temperatures rise above 50° F some observers have begin noticing buds already beginning to pop out on unpruned vines in Napa and Sonoma.
Vines “bleed”! The start of bud break begins with a “bleeding” of the vine. When the soil begins to warm, water pushed up through the root system becomes evident, as it comes through cuts in the stem that were made during winter pruning. Amazingly, one vine can bleed more than a gallon of water!
Small buds on the vine swell, and shoots appear. Leaves sprout, photosynthesis begins and the plant has more energy to grow. A month after bud break starts, plant growth speeds up to reach an incredible rate of 1-to-2 inches per day. Gotta appreciate the miracles of nature!