May 19, 2015 | by Lisa Mattson

The 2015 growing season is off to a quick start with an early bud break and an equally early flowering. Are you ready for vintage 2015? This aerial footage was captured on a DJI Inspire 1 drone equipped with a 4K, high-definition video camera. Let us know if this video gets you in the spirit. Harvest will be here before we know it.

Flowering, also known as “bloom,” is the stage of a grapevine’s life cycle when the tiny, fragrant flowers appear and pollination of the plant begins. Once the vine blooms, fertilization can take place, with the potential of every flower becoming a single berry. Weather is critical during this delicate developmental period, as a vintage can have a really nice bloom, but then the weather can turn bad, affecting fertilization.

Vintage 2015 flowering commenced in late April/early May and spread swiftly through the vineyards, thanks to sunny, warm temperatures with some wind issues but little precipitation–though we had a rain scare last Thursday, but the storm skirted north of Jordan Estate in Alexander Valley. Inclement weather during the flowering period can keep the flowers from completing pollination, getting fertilized and becoming berries–the outcome is known as “shatter”–when certain grapes don’t fully develop in the cluster. Heavy wind can also snap vine shoots off the grapevines–shoots that are needed for photosynthesis and to create a canopy for shade when the grape clusters begin to ripen.

While wind didn’t come into play in the early ripening Russian River Valley, where Chardonnay bloom was occurring as early as late April, there have been several windy days in the Alexander Valley in early May, which led to some shatter in Merlot and Cabernet Sauvignon vineyards. This means clusters will be lighter than average, but the number of clusters on the vines is abundant right now, which should make up for the lighter cluster weight. In short, shatter affects quantity, not quality.

Luckily, Mother Nature has been good to grapegrowers so far during the 2015 growing season. After two months of warm weather, temperatures have started to cool down but not too much, and with fertilization of the flowers nearly complete, the berries are beginning to develop. Despite a little wind, the crop looks very healthy, according to our winemaker.