Bud break came early this year. The buds appeared in early April and by mid-April we already had 3-4 inches of new green leaves. Winter pruning took place in February and March and we spur pruned the cordons and “two-budded”, choosing the best spacing and shoots we could, so that the resulting vines could be to be trained on the wires to take maximum advantage of the sunshine, and the breezes could pass through the vines and keep the leaves dry in our long, humid summers. In 1999, we planted our vineyard with Chardonnay and Cabernet Franc, and this spring we are expanding our field and planting a third variety, Merlot. Our two signature wines at Twin Oaks are our white wine, Chardonnay, and our Bordeaux-style blend, Raven Rocks Red, whose two staple wines are Cabernet Franc and Merlot, so we are happy to be finally growing our own Merlot grapes.
While it was good to see the vines come to life early, the great fear when this happens, is that the warm weather will be followed by frost,…and it did. We are at 1100 ft on the mountain, so we are always a few degrees colder in the winter and also in the summer. We also have continuous breezes in the summer which keep the vines dry but they sometimes turn into howling winds in the winter, which threaten to rip the vines right out of the ground and actually lift shingles off the roof! We managed to escape frost damage this spring, because when the cold air descends, it flows downward to the lowest point, so we have never had frost damage (fingers crossed…knock wood). But, guess what? On April 24, we had 3 inches of snow on the mountain! However, it never hit freezing and our vines were, once again, alright.
As you can imagine from this report, we are heading into another season of “problem management.” Ahead of us is the challenge of drought in the summer and too much rain in early fall. We are also on the lookout for fungus, which is always hovering in the background waiting to happen. But, it is also another season of hope. This year may be another “good year”, like 2010, when winemaking was a joy, because the conditions were optimal and the grapes were at their best.
This could be that special year, and you have to be an optimist to have a vineyard and a winery, anyway. Next, I will be writing about “the season of flowers”. Stay tuned and let me know what questions you have.