Spring has sprung! We have budbreak all over the Bartholomew Estate vineyards, and little pink and green leaves are unfolding in the sun, getting bigger with each passing day. They will lose their cute pink edges as they develop, turning bright green with chlorophyll, so they can make sugar, literally out of thin air, some of which will eventually ripen the grapes for us.
A bit later, as the shoots get longer, we will see the tiny cluster primordia emerge. These will eventually flower, set, and become fruit, but early on they can give us an idea, based on their number and size, what the crop may look like in the fall. There are normally two per shoot, but sometimes there are three, only one, or even zero.
The truly amazing thing is that these little grape cluster potentials do not form as part of this year’s growth. They already existed, in microscopic form, when the buds formed on last year’s shoots. If you take a dormant bud, carefully slice it in half with a razor, and look at it under a microscope, you can see them in there, all curled up with the leaf primordia, waiting to become.
The vines have already planned this year’s crop during last year’s growing season, we just don’t get to know what the plan is until they are ready to show us. As with so much that happens between us and the natural world around us, we like to think that we’re in the driver’s seat, but we’re actually just along for the ride. Here’s hoping that this vintage will be a less bumpy ride than 2020 was!