The same is true in the vineyard. Grapevines go through a cycle of slumber, growth, harvest, then slumber. This time of year the vines are in a critical and fragile state. Budbreak and flowering are beginning to take place, getting ready for a new crop of grapes, and ultimately the next wine vintage.
|Syrah, just starting to bud|
On the other end of the spectrum are the late budding varieties like Sauvignon Blanc and Syrah. Both of these are also early ripening. The best known variety that is both late budding and late ripening is Cabernet Sauvignon.
Obviously, soil, climate, and aspect of the terrain are important factors in determining which varieties are best suited for planting.
|Viognier - with embryo clusters|
The embryo bunch stage is also a very critical part of the grape life cycle. These small green clusters are going to be the flowers that will eventually become the grapes. These are the first indication of the potential size of the crop. Usually, within eight weeks after budbreak, the tiny embryo clusters develop into flower clusters. Since we are not yet in the full flowering stage (usually some time in May), I will defer the discussion of the flowering stage for another article. But again, just like the budbreak stage, this time of year runs the danger of rain, wind and frost. Additionally, the vines can be affected by coulure or millerandage. All of these can dramatically affect the years' harvest and grape quality.