As the cold winter days begin to fade away, Belle Roche Vineyard at Ducleaux Cellars is coming to life with the arrival of very early spring. This is a time of rejuvenation and renewal for the vines, as they awaken from their winter slumber and start preparing for the upcoming growing season. We've had a reasonable winter with only a single day that got close to zero in the Walla Walla Valley.
The first step during late February and March is pruning. This is one of the best ways to manage how much fruit and canopy the vineyard will produce and limit the amount of work needed during the growing season. Each variety is a little different and we'll look to see if any bud damage occurred over winter that would cause us to leave a few more buds.
One of the first signs of spring in the vineyard is the emergence of tiny buds on the vines. These buds are the starting point for the new growth that will eventually produce the grapes that make up the wine we all love. We're still about 6 weeks away, but the timing of bud break is critical to the success of the upcoming harvest, as late frosts or other adverse weather conditions can damage or even destroy the delicate buds. We have a wind machine that can help us manage this as long as it doesn't get below 27 degrees after bud break.
Growing our own grapes gives us control over farming methods and the quality of fruit produced. Mother Nature also exerts maximum anxiety throughout the growing season.
As I always tell guests in our tasting room, we became enamored by the perceived lifestyle of a rural winemaker. Farming and weather is definitely not something contemplated in the perceived lifestyle.