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Bud Break 2014

Posted on April 14, 2014

Yes, the 2014 growing season has begun and the beginning of the season starts with bud break. It can be seen all over Napa and Sonoma right now. What is bud break? Well, the yearly annual growth cycle of the grape starts in the spring and this is called bud break.

Vines at the beginning of bud break
Vines at the beginning of bud break

Here in Northern California, bud break usually begins sometime in March. After last season’s harvest was completed, the vines still had leaves and they continued to soak up the sun’s rays, preparing for winter by storing nutrients in the vines’ root stock. Then when we have our first frost, the vines go into their dormant state and the leaves fall off. Last year’s vine growth is all that is left on the vines at this point.

In January and February “bleeding” of the vine occurs, in which the vines are pruned of last year’s growth. The root system of the vine contains a low concentration of organic acids, minerals, sugars and hormones. The soil begins to warm and osmotic pressure forces water up from the roots, where it is expelled, or “bled,” from cuts on the vine created during the pruning process.

You can see the tiny buds on these vines!
You can see the tiny buds on these vines!

This prompts the vines to instinctually start bud break and, at this point, tiny buds on the vine start to swell and eventually shoots begin to grow from these buds. The buds are the small part of the vine that rest between the vine’s stem and the leaf stem. Inside, each bud contains three shoots. Eventually the shoots sprout tiny leaves that begin the process of producing energy to accelerate growth. In warm climates, after about four weeks, the growth of the shoots starts to rapidly accelerate with the shoots growing an average of about four inches per week!

So, while you are on your next Platypus tour go out into a vineyard and see for yourself the tiny little buds that will be made into 2014’s wine.

Written by tour guide Chris Largent