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What's Happening in the Vineyard

 
The Role of Flowering in the Life Cycle of the Vine
 
    In the Northern Hemisphere, sometime in May or early June, when the temperature is at least 60 degrees Fahrenheit the flowering begins to occur. Reaching this threshold is rarely an issue in California, though it can be in some cooler parts of Europe.
    Flowering in the vineyard occurs over about a week and a half. During this time, the embryonic grape clusters are fertilized and pollinated. The vines are very susceptible to weather swings when this is happening. Various methods are used to prohibit frost damage including wind creation using fans, furnaces and sprinklers.
Weeping
    As temperatures rise in early spring, sap begins to concentrate where the canes were pruned. Known as weeping, this is the precursor to all of the vine’s growth during the coming season. The ground temperature must be at least 50 degrees Fahrenheit for the process to start. This is the first step in the annual life cycle of the vine.
Budbreak
    After the vine pools its energy, budbreak occurs. In California Wine Country, this usually happens sometime in April or early May. Budbreak is a vulnerable time in the annual life cycle of the vine. Spring frosts can be particularly damaging.
 
Early Grape Development & Flowering
    During early grape development, sugars do not form, but the maximum yield is set. This usually occurs during late March or early April. The next step in the annual life cycle of the vine is flowering and usually occurs in May or early June. The small grapes are pollinated over a week or two and remain vulnerable to frost.
 
 
The Role of Fruit Set in the Annual Life Cycle of the Vine
    The percentage of grapes that will develop from their embryonic state varies roughly between 25% and 65%. Varietal type largely determines how many grapes will be in each cluster. Spraying for pests, fertilizing and pruning often continue during fruit set.
    The vine needs sufficient carbohydrates to properly complete the process. Poor fruit set usually manifests millerandage or coulure. Millerandage occurs when the temperatures are too cold, or there is too much rain during fruit set. The berries develop irregularly and the yield is reduced.
    Coulure is French for “shatter” and occurs when the grapes are not properly pollinated. The fruit development is stifled and the small berries they eventually fall off of the vine. Merlot, Grenache and Malbec are all particularly susceptible to coulure.