Early budbreak could be a sign of climate change

Mar 16, 2020

A welcome sign of spring each year for grape producers is budbreak, the moment when tiny buds on the vine start to swell and green leaves appear. Budbreak varies by region, variety and even vineyard topography, but in Sonoma County, unseasonably warm weather caused buds to burst early, reported Bill Swindell in the Press-Democrat.

“Perhaps it's the new normal,” said Jen Walsh, the winemaker at La Crema Winery in the Russian River Valley, commenting about long-term change due to global warming.

The Carneros region that borders San Pablo Bay is typically the first wine appellation to experience bud shoots on grapevines, given its milder climate, said Rhonda Smith, UC Cooperative Extension viticulture advisor in Sonoma County. In addition, hillside vineyard areas in the county with south- and west-facing slopes also usually are on the early side because of their longer sun exposure.

There is a downside to early budbreak. The vines are susceptible longer to a potential spring frost, which could harm opening buds and young shoots.

Below are recent tweets heralding the 2020 budbreak around California.


By Jeannette E. Warnert
Author - Communications Specialist