April in the Vineyard: The Growing Season Kicks Into Gear

They say that April showers bring May flowers, but it’s a little different in California wine country, where the winter showers typically are over by April.

That’s meteorological news that is welcomed by the men and women who take care of the vineyards, as they’re able to work their way between the rows of grapevines, mow the cover crop, and disc it into the vineyards.

Cover crops serve a number of important purposes in the vineyard, including protecting the soil from erosion, regulating vine growth, improving soil fertility, and improving soil structure and water holding capacity. The move toward organic farming has changed the type of cover crops used, and they vary based on the architecture of the individual vineyard.

If it didn’t start in March, bud break definitely will start in April, with the first green leaves and shoots appearing on the vines. That marks the official start of the growing season, much like the green flag marks the beginning of an auto race.

As the new leaves and tendrils grow, they unfurl toward the sun, their natural source of “nutrition” in the months ahead.

Wildflowers will be in abundance on non-farmed hillsides and hugging country roads, and many of the wineries will have their display gardens in full bloom.

Mother Nature is still in control, however, as showers can slow the mowing of cover crops and a late frost can damage the vines at this critical juncture of the growing season.

But in most years, April is the month when grape growers and winemakers begin looking ahead to what hopefully will be an outstanding vintage.

Posted in Wine and the Environment, Wine Buzz

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