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Stories from the valley

Bud Break in Sierra Foothill Vineyards

Contributed by Tim Johnson

Framed by the chartreuse green of the new leaves on the oaks, gnarled vines too are starting to push new growth. This is a special time in the vineyard – new life and the promise of a good year.

New grown sprouting from gnarled grape vine

There are two things we look for this time of year, rain and frost.

Rains this year were much better that the last two years. March was fantastic with over 10 inches here at the ranch. This means we will not have to start our drip irrigation system until later in the year and only when the soil moisture sensors tell us it is time to irrigate.

Our local reservoir is also full, spilling for the first time in a long time. Better yet, behind it is a normal snowpack, promising runoff through summer.

We also look for cold nights here at 2000’ elevation. While the spring days can be alluring, night temperatures drop. The new growth on the grapes pushing now is both the cane and the flower (yes they have flowers – almost unnoticeable)! A hard freeze now and the crop will be reduced or even lost.

What a different year than the last several! Optimism bounds with the greening of the hills and the vines waking from their long winter dormancy. The soil is deep and moist and the wildflowers will soon begin their joyous chorus to a new season in the vineyard.