As you take a winter tour of Texas wine country and press your nose up against your car window, you’re greeted with acres of barren vines, leafless and unmoving. The silence of winter seems to still have her icy grip on the plants, and they appear to be almost lifeless. However, the magic of bud break is about to begin, and we are hard at work preparing the vines for the growing season ahead.
Our new vineyard foreman, Sherah Mills, has been tirelessly pruning our vineyards for the last few weeks. We are lucky to have her; she is a recent graduate of Texas Tech with a degree in horticulture and has experience working in her family's vineyard in Stonewall. She understands that winter pruning is very important to ensure that this year’s crop of grapes is both high quality and concentrated.
All of our pruning is done by hand, giving us the chance to lovingly choose the training regimen for each individual plant. We finalize our pruning protocol in the winter months based on the last year’s growing season, with adjustments made for how the vineyard is looking this season.
Admittedly, we are a nerdy bunch and like to experiment with variations on certain rows to see how the vines will react and adapt. Because of our studies in our test rows, we have found that some of our more vigorous grapes, such as Touriga Nacional, like to be left with more buds per spur so they have somewhere to push their energy. We are always happy to work with the vines’ needs in order to ensure a great crop!
Unfortunately, temperatures have recently plunged and we Texas grape growers are watching the weather with apprehension. And for good reason: a constant string of warmer days preceding this cold snap, which coaxed out a few buds in some of the white grapes. A freeze could completely destroy them. Luckily, a plant will push out a second wave of “insurance” buds, but the yields will be significantly reduced, nonetheless. We have our fingers crossed and will be assessing the damages, if any, in the near future. Say a prayer for us, PC lovers!
On a lighter note, I am heading to New Zealand this week to work the wine-grape harvest there and am looking forward to applying what I have learned about their vineyard and winemaking techniques to our operation. Stay tuned for updates!
See Bud Break in Action
If you want to see the vineyard progress first hand, we have just the thing for you. Sign up for our Kuhlken Vineyard Bud Break Tour. First planted in 1995, this vineyard has contributed fruit to some of our favorite wines throughout the years and we would love to share its history with you. This tour includes transportation to and from the vineyard from Pedernales Cellars, a picnic lunch, and a tour of our winery. Sign up on the Pedernales Cellars website.