Written by: Elise Nerlove, second-generation Viticulturist and Winemaker at Elkhorn Peak Cellars in Napa Valley.
Bud Break in Napa Valley
Happy spring! Although it may not quite feel like it yet, spring is officially in Napa Valley, marked by budbreak in the vineyard. Budbreak is the vineyard waking up from winter and its nature’s signal to get to work. Spring time in Napa Valley is one of the busiest – it all happens in the spring!
Spring Vineyard Maintenance
In spring we start field maintenance. Field maintenance ensures our vineyard has the best opportunity to develop and ripen a nice, even crop. Field maintenance is a broad term that includes trellis work, leafing, suckering, drip system maintenance, and mildew prevention, just to name a few. But the first order of business is to mow the vineyard.
This year, because of all the winter rain we had, the cover crops grew to be very tall. Cover crops develop from seeds thrown in-between vineyard rows after last year’s harvest…and they have all winter to grow. Cover crops provide many benefits to the vineyard over the winter months: they prevent erosion, suppress weed growth, add organic matter to the soil, and even sucks up excess moisture in the soil. Cover crops are a very natural and effective way to replenish top soil.
We used a legume/grass cover crop mixture this year, which is a crop chosen specifically to replenish the nitrogen in our soil. After we get the vineyards mowed, we till the legumes/grasses into the soil, giving our vineyards some extra nutrients as they begin rapid spring-time growth.
With the changing seasons, what better way to ring in spring’s longer, warmer days than with a bottle of fabulous wine from this very special Napa Valley vineyard? We can't think of anything better, can you?