|Bud break at Muir-Hanna in Napa Valley|
"Buds on Chardonnay have begun swelling and bursting on a few vines," Brittany Pederson, viticulturist at Silverado Farming Company said in a press release. "With this warm weather and no real rain or cold weather in the near forecast, it shouldn’t be long before everything takes off."
Matt Reid, winemaker at Benessere Vineyards, said, "I’d say we’re a good week to 10 days ahead of last year and about 17-21 days ahead of normal.”
In years past, farmers would fret about bud break so early because the young buds are vulnerable to frost. A single night with temperatures below freezing could be enough to damage an entire year's crop (though not the grapevine itself.)
But lately, frost seems a thing of the past. Global warming in California seems to have as much an impact on warming winters as in heating up summers. I don't know about you, but I spent much of February in t-shirts and shorts.
Not only that, there is no region in the world better prepared for frost that no longer comes than Napa Valley. When grapes are that valuable, it makes sense to buy equipment to protect them.
So what does early bud break mean for the eventual wines?