…this is what I saw in the established cane-pruned Pinot clone 943. Buds are finally starting to show some activity. The cane-pruned Pinot HVS is also popping a little, but everything else is still dormant. The image below shows where we were in the same block on March 22nd, 2011—the vines were farther along at this time last year.
Today was cool, gray and drizzly. In the last week we received 5.1 inches of rain, bringing us to 17.3 inches total—which means that 2012 is no longer the driest year since I started keeping our vineyard records in 1998. This season we are now ahead of 2007 (which didn’t reach 17″ until mid-April that year) but still behind 2001 and 2009 at 19.3″ and 19.75″ to date, respectively. We are expecting more rain this weekend.
The overhead sprinklers were running full blast at Beltane Ranch when I drove by this morning. Maybe they were testing the frost protection. But at Landmark they were definitely irrigating the new Rhône block by the highway—I could see the spray from a popped emitter as I drove by.
I’ve been thinking of the role that soil moisture might play in the timing of budbreak. Accepted wisdom is that the vines start to push when the soil temperature in the shallow root zone is consistently above 50° F. Does wet soil warm and retain heat better than dry soil? I’ve postulated that there is a day length rescue mechanism to assure that grapes ripen even in a cold year. Might there be a similar day length trigger for budbreak in a cold and/or dry year? Inquiring minds want to know.
Hermelando was out doing repair and maintenance on the frost emitters today. The crew was finishing tying of canes and cordons. In the last week we completed our semi-annual re-planting of damaged or diseased vines (you can see milk cartons in the image below of the Pinot HVS block, with the Pinot Calera block behind it).