Each new year, the work in the vineyard begins all over again in late winter or early spring while the vines are in their winter dormancy. In our existing vineyard, the vine's canes are carefully pruned in February. At the time of the pruning, the vine will "weep” or “bleed” a watery sap from the pruning "wound". The pruned vine will then finally emerge from its winter dormancy when the average air temperature around it surpasses 50°F; it starts with bud break. During bud break, which usually occurs in March or April, the first small shoots and leaves will break through buds left intact after the winter pruning. At this stage, the vine is vulnerable to frost. The vine’s foliage continues to develop through the early spring, and small green clusters called embryo bunches form on the shoots by mid-April. In early April, any replanting that needs to occur in the vineyard will occur as well. The vines will then "flower" six-to-thirteen weeks after the initial bud break, depending on the climate. At the Vino al Lago vineyard, our proximity to the ocean coupled with a high amount of quality sunlight hours create a perfectly balanced life cycle. Later, the embryo bunches bloom into small flowers for about ten days, and continue their annual life cycle.
In a bit more detail, the tiny buds on the vine start to swell and eventually shoots begin to grow from the buds. The buds are the small part of the vine that rest between the vine's stem and the leaf stem. These buds actually appear in the summer of the previous year as a green bud covered in scales. During the winter months, they turn brown until the spring when the vine begins the process of bud break. In most years, the vineyard at Vino al Lago experiences bud break a full month before vineyards in Europe. This allows our fruit to express true ripeness of the grape not found elsewhere.