Vineyard: Bud Break

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Bare lines of vines, a coo of a pigeon in the distance, and the crackling of footsteps as a vineyard manager passes through the rows in the morning light. He has done this many mornings, but his steps stop as he notices something different. There it is…light green, soft, even a little fuzzy…it is a bud.

Each year we eagerly wait for bud break to occur. This is when the vines push open leaves much like other plants during the spring. Dormant vines awake when daylight and temperatures increase, which encourages the vines to pull up stored water and macro-nutrients (nitrogen, phosphorus, potassium) from the roots to the limbs. This up-flow of water and nutrients push open the buds. You would think that after leaves push open that it would mean photosynthesis would occur immediately, but it does not. It takes the vine a little bit of time, leaves the size of about silver dollars, before that process begins.

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One of the most important parts of bud break is that it is a measurable starting point for the vineyard. We can actually start the clock for when pivotal moments will occur. For instance, we now know we are about 150 to 200 days away from harvest depending on the grape variety. It seems like this then would mean that bud break itself is actually a markable date, but it’s not that simple. This is still farming, which means everything is variable. When bud break occurs depends on a few things. Each terroir is different. And you can probably guess, each variety of is different.

A cooler terroir means that bud break will be later, while a warm terroir like in Paso Robles, CA will have an earlier bud break. In Paso Robles, we have seen buds as early as February. Although for us this year (2018) we are running a little slower as we have had a cooler spring. Each year is different! Another factor is micro-terroir. The difference between locations of vines in a single vineyard will even come into play. A hillside vine will have bud break because of its elevation, but a lower valley vine will still be dormant. Lastly, varieties will have bud break at different times. In our Adelaida Vineyard, our  Malbec and Cabernet Franc had bud break first, but the Cabernet Sauvignon hit the snooze button. As you can see, there are many variables that go into this and this is just one part of the vine cycle!

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While there are variances in the cycle, one consistent thing is temperature. Vines are very dependent and particular about temperature. Vines prefer gradual temperature increases for bud break, but they don’t always get that. Sometimes they get awoken from slumber with a warming trend and then hit with a freeze. That is why vineyards have tall fans to help with frost protection. A freeze will damage the cellular tissue in the leaves and the leaves will then turn black. It’s awful. This then kills the growth for your year and can sometimes decimate a vineyard. Bud break is basically the infancy stage of the vine. You want to protect it because the leaves are soft and fragile at this stage, much like you would with a newborn (and well, we all know parenting doesn’t stop there). So, that is the one thing all farmers can count on is frost season and the need to be vigilant.

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We have a mobile, quieter fan it’s so cool. Contact us if interested.

After bud break, we now watch as the leaves begin to grow (obviously). Photosynthesis will begin at a certain point and once that happens the shoots of the vines will really take off as the vines will receive something that they love, much like humans, carbs! Up next is flowering, so stay tuned.

Happy Friday and hopefully this gave you something to think about while you sip your wine…cheers!

-Cecily

Meet: Lynn Parrish

We wanted to revisit getting to know our team as Parrish Family Vineyard is very much what it is because of our team. So, here’s your chance to learn more about them!

First up, Lynn Parrish, who is an owner and has been an integral part of the team behind the scenes.

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What do you love about Paso Robles?
That it is thriving and growing, but still has that small town appeal.

Where is your favorite spot on the Central Coast?
My home in Creston where we planted our first vineyard (1995). It’s a little slice of heaven.

What are you passionate about?
Any project I tackle be it gardening, work on the ranch, or during the winter months some kind of craft work. And, of course, my 30 year long passion of weight lifting!

How do you take your coffee?
Black in the morning and half-and-half with sweetener in the afternoon.

What is your favorite dish?
Almost anything cooked in a slow cooker.

What is one job you’ve had before that would surprise people?
I was a firefighter for the US Forestry during the summer breaks when I was in college.

What is your favorite family tradition?
Celebrating the 4th of July at our place in Creston down at our little lake.

What is one of your favorite memories at the winery?
When David and I single handedly made our Cabernet Sauvignon in 2009.

2017 – Another Big Year

2016 held a lot of wonderful and exciting things for us at PFV from our exciting news of receiving our 1st permit, working with our local RCD on the Adelaida creek restoration, and having our first 100% Estate harvest. With 2017 just beginning, we have another exciting year and a full one at that. Here are just a couple of the highlights…

Clone 6
Our very best (so far) is just around the corner and it is the 2014 Clone 6 Estate Cabernet Sauvignon. First, some may be asking, “What’s a clone?” Cuttings are made from an original vine that has the key characteristics of a variety (grape plant). A clone is just a slight variance from the original whether it’s stronger, concentrated berries, or repellant to certain flaws and diseases. Each grape variety has several clones. In Cabernet Sauvignon, there’s a ton. Winemakers use several clones to make a complex wine as some characters are seen more in one clone than another. Sometimes you can have an exceptional vintage with just one clone.

So, what makes Clone 6 special? My dad, David Parrish, weighs in on that:

“Clone 6, is one of those special grapes that I love and hate. The grape grower in me hates the Clone 6 as the yield is light, but the winemaker in me loves it because of the wine it creates.”

What this means is that at harvest the yield can sometimes only be 2 tons due to the berry size and sparse clusters (shatter). As a farmer, that is always a disheartening sight, but it is the character of that clone. Once in the tank, the color is dark and profile is rich. So, with all the hard work (and I can vouch, as it is my least favorite grape to sort at harvest) comes great reward. The reward is tasting and knowing it is a special wine. We have already received some great reviews over it from select media and are looking forward to showcasing it to our wine club this Spring.

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Development 
With the excitement of the site & winery permit approval (waiting on one more permit), we have begun to lay the foundations of our new project for our winery. The time frame hinges a lot on the weather. This year we have been blessed with rain! Last year, we were supposed to receive the monster El Niño, but it was more like a kitten’s meow when all was said in done. This year we have received over 5 inches (time stamp…we’re in January)!

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It has been amazing to see the Salinas River in Paso Robles flowing as it’s been years. This means that many of the aquifers are being replenished, so that is fabulous news for our community. So, while we finally are having a true winter season, it has definitely slowed our personal progress. In the mean time, we still have our wonderful Downtown Tasting Room.

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With that, as you can see, we have quite a year ahead. Be sure to come visit Paso Robles as it is gorgeous right now with all the green hillsides. It’s a little chilly, but we’ve got some wine to keep you warm.

Cheers!

Cecily

Travel + Leisure – Visit Paso Robles for the Holidays!

Paso Robles made the list for one of America’s Best Towns for the Holidays and Parrish Family Vineyard got to be featured too! Cheers and definitely join us for some holiday wine! http://ow.ly/FxFyh