Donelanpedia: wine terms defined.
Bud break: buds formed yesteryear finally getting to strut their stuff as Spring springs new leaves with stored plant energy.
Here we go again. The seasonality of producing wine is one of its most attractive elements. As a former Donelan intern once said “it’s a grape’s world and we’re just living in it.” Buds have broken, shoots and leaves are extending (at great speed with this heat!), and another vintage is on its way. Here we go.
At bud break vines use stored energy in the roots and trunks to support new leaf and shoot growth. One interesting note about vine buds is that the buds bursting this spring were actually formed last year. And in those buds there exists already 5-7 leaves and – generally speaking – two cluster primoridia, the structure that will become flowers, fruit, and then the whole cluster. This is why pruning is so critical, it sets the stage for the coming year’s yield since the buds already contain leaves and clusters.
There is much to learn from bud break. It sets the stage for the timing the whole season. It is also a time to learn about temperature nuances in our vineyards. Cold air in the spring drains to low points and we often see a difference in the emergence of leaves and shoots across our hilly vineyards. The different timing can impact the evenness of ripening at the end of the season. As a result we will create segments in the vineyards based on the variation in bud break. Another way to capture variance and make sure that each vineyard section is ripened to a point of ultimate quality.
As this season begins it sets the industry into its season long fret about quality. The north coast of California has received trace amounts of rain from January through April. All this means that soils are relatively dry and that water stress is likely to be higher earlier this year than it has been since 2007. Earlier water stress tends to improve overall wine quality.
The warm temperatures this Spring have led to a slightly earlier than average bud break and I expect (if things continue as they have) an earlier flowering. This will mean harvests coming starting in early September (instead of mid-Sept) if not late August (!) and all of harvest wrapping up (all fruit off the vine) before mid Oct. Of course we’ll have to wait for flowering to occur to say definitively. This favorable weather tends to support good fruit set and cluster number appears to be average to high. All this means we could be looking at average to above average yields with high quality growing conditions.
Now, if it were to get cold and rain in early May all bets are off. Thus far though, knowing our vineyards and knowing vines, we are stepping out with our best foot forward toward another high quality vintage.
Come say hello, meet proprietors Joe and Cushing Donelan along with winemaker Tyler Thomas this Saturday in Los Angeles at Wally’s Wine. As part of Wally’s weekly Saturday tastings you’ll be able to taste our wonderful portfolio of Chardonnay, Roussanne, Pinot Noir, Grenache and Syrah wines. Enjoy multiple wines, get questions answered, and experience the passion of the Donelan family: “the best wines that you’ve never heard of”.
Risotto is a great vehicle for leftovers. Once you get a solid base recipe down pat, it really becomes quite easy. In addition to Syrah, Grenache, and Pinot Noir, we always have arborio rice, parmesan, chicken stock and butter on hand. All that is left to do is find something to stir in at the end. We’ve already shared our basic recipe with shrimp, and yes I love a lighter styled Grenache like Cuvee Moriah with risotto. So this year the day after Thanksgiving we opened the fridge and tried adding our leftovers to our base recipe.
Reference the risotto recipe here and simply eliminate the shrimp. Instead, we took some leftover fresh thyme and rosemary, finely chopped a couple of sprigs worth, roughly chopped some leftover turkey, and stirred it all in at the end along with juice and zest of 1/2 a lemon, the parmesan and butter. Voila, turkey risotto with Lemon, Thyme and Rosemary. Delicious, easy, and Donelan Wine friendly! We enjoyed it with our last glass of 2008 Cuvee Moriah that was remaining from the evening before.
If you still have some turkey in the fridge and are tired of sandwiches, give this a try and let us know how it turns out!