We expect to finish pruning St. Pepin and Brianna at Newport Lane early in the week. While that hand work is being done, we’ll start mechanically pruning at Tassel Ridge on Tuesday. Then, we will hand prune Brianna at Tassel Ridge.
We are frequently asked why we don’t grow Chardonnay or Cabernet at Tassel Ridge and while our cold winter weather is one important impediment to growing Vitis vinifera varieties, our growing season is much shorter than the growing season in France, Italy, California or Washington. For example, bud break was noted in southern Sonoma and Napa Counties on March 10 this year. We won’t get bud break until 6–7 weeks later or about May 1. Then, we will harvest from mid-August until mid-September. In California, grapes for making sparkling wine will be harvested in mid-August but most other grapes won’t be ready for harvest until about October 1. We will be experiencing our first frost about that time! So, while grapes in California have a growing season from early March until October or just a week shy of 7 months, our grapes have to ripen in 4–5 months. Fortunately, we have grape varieties that ripen in our short growing season.
We are enjoying very warm weather on the Easter weekend as this is being written. This warmth will accelerate the process of coming out of dormancy for our grapes. Now, we are hoping that we won’t have any cold snaps that damage the buds that will be starting to form next week. Right now, the buds are immature so they can take some cold but if the warm weather continues, they’ll decide that it is time to come out and play and then they can be damaged quite easily by a little frost.