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Soil Pits & Screwdrivers

With pruning behind us and the weather starting to warm, we’re on high alert for the first signs of bud break in the Hirondelle Vineyard – our original vineyard site here in the Stags Leap District of Napa Valley.

These Cabernet Sauvignon vines are getting ready to explode with new growth, marking the start of the growing season and setting the stage for our 2022 vintage. In order to produce a balanced, healthy crop, the vines will need plenty of available water and nutrients from our soils.

To get a closer look, we followed our Viticulture Manager, Ryan, into the vineyard:

“After the last couple of dry years, we want to make sure that as we go into bud break… our vines have adequate hydration. Without adequate hydration, we’ll have an uneven bud break… and the crop will be very uneven.

A really simple way to check is by digging a hole in the ground. I get my high-tech screwdriver and I just take some soil out of the side of the pit, and I hold it in my hand and roll it into a ball. Depending on how long that will stay in a ball as I roll it, it will give me a good indication of how much moisture is in the soil… The surface is pretty dry, but down below, which is where we really want to store all that moisture, we’re looking pretty good.”

In this vineyard, we’re expecting the first signs of bud break in the coming weeks. With mild temperatures and the cooling breeze that the Hirondelle Vineyard often receives, conditions are promising for a great start to the 2022 growing season:

“Things are looking really nice! You can see a bright sunny day right now… we’re hoping for a little bit more rain, but we’re not counting on it, so that’s why we’re out here checking on soil moisture…. it’s a nice little breezy day, about 65 degrees. Great conditions going into bud break!”

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