Our vineyard crew is working at flank speed short pruning vines. That leaves us very exposed if we have a hard frost. But, while the buds are swelling, we have not gotten to bud-break yet. The vines come out of dormancy in a consistent manner with sap flowing up into the trunk and cordons as the first step. That starts to happen when the ground temperature reaches about 45°F. Since soil temperatures now exceed that number, when we prune the vines, we can get squirted in the face with sap. Adam, our Vineyard Manager, says that when they were machine pruning last week, it looked like it was raining behind the pruning vehicle! By the way, this does not hurt the vine. It looks like La Crescent will be the first to leaf out followed by Marquette and Frontenac. These vines are all at Meadowcreek. The buds at Tassel Ridge vineyard are still pretty small.
The Edelweiss and Sabrevois have to be pruned aggressively this year in order to allow mechanical pruning in future years. Both varieties are vigorous growers and if left to their own preferences, they will produce “bull” canes that can run up to 30 feet long without producing any fruit. They will cover up and shade fruit. This year, we are removing almost every bud that will produce a cane on top of the cordon. This will encourage the canes to grow downward, so that the fruit will be in a narrower growing zone.
Adam has now completed spraying sulfur in three of our four vineyards with only Tassel Ridge left. This week, we will start mowing in the alleys between the vines in order to mulch up the cuttings from pruning.