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View of vines in early spring in Alentejo region, Portugal.

Springtime and bud breaking come together in the vineyard

In the vineyards, the annual growth cycle begins in springtime. The dates may vary depending on the weather in each particular season, but normally, bud breaking takes place in March or April every year.

While bud breaking depends on a variety of factors, the most important one is the weather. Other environmental factors may affect the date when vines put on their show of green across the vineyard– soil moisture, altitude, inclination, sunlight and, of course, grape variety, since not all of them start their annual cycle at the same time of year.

With the rising temperatures, the vines leave winter dormancy behind. The first stage in the annual cycle of vines and wines begin with buds swelling and bursting through the thin, the soft fabric-like substance that covers them. Then, the rudimentary foliage on the shoots starts growing until it soon becomes true leaves.

With the coming of spring, new green growth appears, indicating that vines are getting ready for the busiest season of their life cycle, whose peak is marked by the grape harvest in the summer. Frost still can occur in the spring, when the temperature falls below a certain mark, and this can damage the vulnerable buds. Besides, springtime is a busy time of year on the vineyard, as work needs to be done to remove weeds, turn over the surface soil to facilitate root growth, and fertilize the plants.

The newly-born leaves continue to grow well into the spring until they become fully grown foliage, happily soaking up the sunshine. But this is a different story. For now, we will just enjoy the view of the entire vineyard magically going from brown to green during the spring weeks. Later on, like every year, the summer will bring along the most exciting stage of the annual grapevine growth cycle – harvest time.

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