Growing Season

growing vineyardAs Winter ends, the pruning is nearly finished and the growers take cuttings to make bench-grafts and root them in sand. They also begin cleaning and repairing tractors and machines that they will be using all Spring and Summer. As Spring continues, the vines emerge from dormancy. Sap begins to rise and brown sheaths, which have covered the buds, fall off. Now comes the first working of the soil, deeply, to aerate it. The remnants of pruning are burned and any rotten vine-stakes are replaced.

full vineyardWith daytime temperatures starting to warm, bud-break may begin the vegetation growth cycle as the shoots emerge. Frost danger is now at its height. Smudge-pots, wind-machines, and frost-protection sprinklers must be repaired and readied. The soil is worked again to keep down the weeds. Cover crops, such as wild mustard plants, are sometimes planted between the rows to keep down weeds and act as hosts for predator insects.

full vineyardWhen the daytime temperature reaches 60-65 degrees, the flowering will begin. An early flowering usually signals a very good quality vintage. The warmer and calmer the weather, the better; rain or hail can be disastrous now. After flowering, the shoots are thinned, the best shoots tied to the wires. Within a few weeks, the blossoms are replaced by minuscule berries that will grow in size, but stay green and hard.

navarro vineyardAbout mid-Summer, comes "veraison", the onset of ripening as the grapes soften and swell significantly, while green varieties turn translucent and black grape varieties gain color. This signals the winemaker to prepare his equipment for the harvest. It is time also for diligent bird control in vineyards. Birds cause the most crop loss and fruit damage, by far, in most vineyards. All manner of controls are tried, often in combination, from timed cannons and other noisemakers, to scarecrows and flashy streamers, to actually covering the vines in netting.

Well, the growing season is complete and it is time to move on to the harvest.

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(This site was created as the final project in Jeff Diamond's Dreamweaver A class.)

© 2009 Ron Boles (updated 3/2/09)