April 5th, 2013

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Spring is upon us and our vineyards in the Kansas Settlement have entered the annual spring bud break. This is an amazing time, and I wanted to share some pictures of the bud break with you as well as some information about what “bud break” is. Our goal at Flying Leap Vineyards is to bring you interesting and informative information about our vineyards, winemaking activities and retail operations, so that we can enhance your knowledge of wine and viticulture. Growing grapes is really a lot of fun, and bud break is pretty much the official end of the winter dormancy period. Let me explain a bit about it to you…

What is “Bud Break?” 

Bud Break, or “BB” is the official start of a grapevine’s annual growth cycle. Over the course of a year, there are five (5) distinct phases in a grapevine’s annual growth cycle, which are [in order]:

  1. Bud Break***Flowering
  2. Fruit Set
  3. Veraison
  4. Leaf Fall (winter dormancy)

So, BB is the first of the five distinct growth phases of the vines. The commencement of BB is characterized by the pruned ends of the canes “bleeding” water. Literally, the cleanly snipped canes ooze liquid from them for several weeks. The bleeding occurs when the soil begins to warm up, and osmotic forces ‘push’ water, containing a low concentration of organic acids, hormones, minerals and sugars up from the root system below. This liquid is expelled from the cuts left over from pruning the vine in the months before. During the bleeding cycle, a vine can literally expel more than a gallon of water.

During the bleeding period, tiny buds on the vine will start to swell up. A good example of what bud swelling looks like is the photograph I’ve attached called “Swollen Vine Bud – Grenache (Flying Leap).jpg“. Here, a young Grenache Noir from our Block 1 vineyard is just getting ready for Bud Break. The small buds are swollen, and the small shoots inside (these are referred to as ‘primordial’) are just about to open up and sprout leaves. During winter dormancy, these buds turn brown, and they stay that way until bud break, when the first signs of green in the field emerge as tiny shoots. The shoots eventually sprout tiny leaves that begin the process of photosynthesis, which is how the vine produces energy to support its growth.

I’ve attached a great photo of a broken bud that is just starting to spread it’s new leaf to the sunshine. See “New Shoot Spreads its Leaves.jpg“, attached. This again is a small 3rd year Grenache Noir vine from our Block 1 field in the Kansas Settlement.

Eventually, the small leaves will grow quite rapidly, and as the vine’s growth accelerates the shoots can achieve an amazingly high rate of growth, sometimes as much as an inch per day. I’ve attached a photograph of a young Sangiovese vine from our Block 1 vineyard, which shows the rapid change in the vine’s character from bud swell to fully accelerating leaf growth. This growth happened in a mere matter of days. See “Sangiovese Growth Accelerates.jpg“, attached.

Flowering occurs about 30-60 days after bud break, and we’ll send out some photos in May when the grapevine flowers appear. They are small, but beautiful nonetheless, and flowering is the harbinger of fruit set, which is where the season’s excitement really builds.

Here are some other news bits for you from our crazy world at Flying Leap …

  • We have completed the mesquite door frame for our new tasting room in Willcox. I’ve attached a picture of it to this blog posting – see 20130404-134425.jpg. This door is a work of art, and we are going to hang it into the door frame at the new building next Saturday. Yours truly will be out there in all of my carpenter and woodworking finery, with specialized jigs, drills, saws, hand router, various chisels and some special hardware, including the deadbolt, interior and exterior handles and latch mechanisms and the high strength hinges. After the door is hung, I’ll mount the glass and send you some pictures of the final result. Cross your fingers – we hope all the dimensions are correct, as we’ve measured more times than I can count.
  • Our stonemason Ted continues to make some really amazing progress on our stone pedestal for the front of the tasting room on Elgin Road. Check out the latest picture, titled “Stone Pedestal in Progress at FLV.jpg“, attached. All of the stone you see in the picture was dug up by us when we dug our trenches for our irrigation mainlines out at our vineyard in the Kansas Settlement in 2010/2011. If you look really close, you can see the scars on the rock faces from where our big trencher’s teeth cut into and scraped the stones. We hand selected and hauled all this stone up to Elgin from our field in Cochise county, and we thought this was not only a cool thing visually, but it also connects our two farms together in a special way. This sign pedestal and the sign that goes into it are going to be truly extraordinary when finished, and we will of course send you some pictures of it when it’s done.

Flying Leap’s New Website is UP & RUNNING! WINE CLUB SOON!!!

Our website is being fine tuned and beautified almost daily, so please check it out and let us know your thoughts. Go to:

http://www.flyingleapvineyards.com

Also, we are working with our commerce company to integrate our online wine sales system into our website. The Flying Leap Wine Club will be a part of this, so stay tuned. We handed off our website to the commerce company this morning, so they are working quickly to get the photo skins uploaded and the e-commerce function incorporated into it. All of our wines will be available online very soon, and we’ll send out a general announcement to our entire blog list when the sales side of our website is up and running.

TripAdvisor 🙂

If you could, please take a few moments and rate us on TripAdvisor.com. We’d appreciate any and all feedback you may have, and TripAdvisor is a great way to do just that. We strive to provide our customers with a superior experience in our tasting rooms, and we’d really appreciate you taking the time to write about your experience. You can link directly to our feedback page here:

http://www.tripadvisor.com/Attraction_Review-g31218-d3968655-Reviews-Flying_Leap_Vineyards-Elgin_Arizona.html

The weather in southern Arizona is absolutely fantastic this time of year, and there is nothing better than a short drive from Tucson up to the high rolling hills of Sonoita to enjoy some Arizona wine. We are pouring all weekend from 11-4P daily, and we hope you’ll make the trip and come join us at the tasting room this weekend. Next weekend, Flying Leap will be pouring at the Scottsdale Culinary Festival, and we’re participating in a great wine pairing dinner at the J&G Steakhouse in Phoenix, AZ on Saturday evening, 4/13. We’re also going to be pouring all of our wines at the annual Eat, Drink and Be Pretty fashion festival at the Scottsdale Center for the Performing Arts on Friday night, April 12th, from 7-11P. We’re gonna be partying it up with thousands of fashion-conscious and thirsty Arizonans for a great night of wine, food and fashion.

If you’d like to see all of our upcoming events around Arizona, see our website Events page, at http://www.flyingleapvineyards.com/events/event/.

That’s a rap! Spring is here and we’re heading out to the fields tomorrow morning for a full weekend of hard work at both vineyards. We are planting 3,500 replacement vines starting April 22nd, so we are busy prepping the planting spaces. As always, we are so grateful for your continued interest in Flying Leap Vineyards, and we look forward to seeing you in our tasting rooms or at one of our many events around Arizona in the coming weeks and months.

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