Guest Blog from Owner, Nadia Zilkha: Breaking Buds

Spring at last!  Longer days, more sunshine, more optimism and energy. After a long New York City winter, I was really excited to come to Laetitia this week to see concrete signs of spring in the vineyard.

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Immediately obvious:

Laetitia looked completely different from 6 weeks ago where the drought was a constant worry and everything was brown. We are certainly not out of the woods drought wise but the couple of inches of rain last month resulted in a glorious even green blanket covering the vineyard. Green – the color of St Patrick’s Day, heart chakras and crop cover is my new favorite color.

More signs of spring:

The goats have something to graze on. They seemed better fed, less scrawny. We’re happy for them and for us, they can to do their job of weed abatement as part of our sustainability program and we know we can feed them.

There was an even cover crop on all the vineyard rows, still not long enough to mow but last time I was here this soil was brown and dry as anything. In a couple of weeks we will go back to mow the cover crop between the rows to add nutrients to the soil, and for now we’ll take whatever growth we can.

The birds were all hanging out on the trees singing. Now for this New Yorker their chirping sound was certainly a sign of spring that’s been missed.

What a delight to walk along the vines and to notice small buds breaking through. This is a couple of weeks earlier than in previous years due to the extremely warm winter on the Central Coast. So far our clusters look small. Lino predicts that the crop may be lighter than in the last two years, but of course it’s too early to tell for sure. Weather will play an enormous role in this awakening over the next crucial months.

Spring fever was also evident in the winery where it’s bottling season for our early whites.  The 2013 Nadia Grenache Rosé and the 2013 Laetitia Pinot Gris were being bottled and our new screw cap machine was hard at work. We will be releasing these “Tasting Room and Wine Club Only” wines very soon so please come on over and taste them with us!

Onto Santa Barbara Highlands Vineyard:

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Farewell to dormancy, hello to a less immediately visible spring as the altitude is higher here. Ground still brownish grey, less consistent bud break. But, when we looked closely enough on some of the mesa, we could see tiny buds of soft, furry pink and green growth sprouting from the cordon.

Lino explained that the areas of the ranch where the soil is darkest (higher clay content) had less growth, as those darker soils reflect less heat to the buds, causing a slight delay of bud break.

Bud break however slow = new energy everywhere = a new crop of grapes = winter is over so bring on this year’s new vines!

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