The most exhilarating, action-packed time of year is almost upon us: harvest season, where we reach the culmination of the vine-growing season and get the first taste of what the 2022 vintage will bring. So we’re taking a look back on how we got here: the parts of each grape growing season and why each season plays its part to shape the fruit we harvest off the vine.
During a season synonymous with stillness and cold, winter is a time of anticipation for the grape vines. After harvest in the fall, vines are dormant through the holiday season and into January, when pruning takes place. Pruning involves cutting the vine’s canes back, shaping the vine and signaling it to prepare for budbreak.
February marks the start of mustard season, when brilliant yellow mustard flowers bloom between the vine rows. Mustard is a particularly great cover crop, helping to prevent soil erosion, incorporating nitrogen into the soil, and even inhibiting weed growth and protecting against unwanted vine pests.
After months of dormancy, the buds on the vine swell and eventually burst, revealing sprigs of green that will become the vintage’s new growth. This typically takes place in March, and the buds grow over a few weeks’ time until the next stop along the vine’s journey: flowering. During flowering, the bud opens fully to reveal dozens of tiny flowers that will each become a grape.
In late May or into June, the vines’ flower petals fall, revealing a grape in the center of each flower. This is fruit set, where we see a grape vine look like a grape vine, laden with about 40 clusters. All summer long, these clusters grow and develop, with the vines sending nutrients and energy to the grapes through photosynthesis. As the growing season continues over the summer months, the grapes increase in size and ripeness until harvest. A key turning point in this process is veraison, a French term for color-change that occurs as grapes ripen. Green grapes lighten in color, while red grapes turn from green to red or purple.
The season of activity and excitement in the vineyard and winery. In the vineyard, our team starts sampling grapes to test sugar levels and flavor development to determine the pick date, or the momentous day when the grapes will be harvested. Then, harvest itself: when our amazing vineyard crew picks the grapes and we bring the fruit into the winery to be sorted, destemmed and pumped into fermentation tanks to undergo fermentation. These are days of early mornings and late nights, but the smell of fermenting grapes fills the air and all our boots are stained with grapes. Every taste of a grape or sip of juice is a sign of the wines to come. Meanwhile, the vines are reprieved of their fruit and start their long winter nap or dormancy before the cycle starts right up again with January pruning.