Budbreak 2024: Right on Time
Other Wines We've Loved: 2007 Beaucastel

April in Paso Robles is Peak Green

If you asked me to pick my favorite month in Paso Robles, it would be April. The days are longer, and the sun warmer. You get your first days in the 70s and by the end of the month probably touch 80 once or twice, but the nights are still chilly and you're coming out of the winter season which makes the warmth all the more welcome. The grapevines burst out of dormancy and come to life. And the combination of green hillsides, blue skies, and puffy white clouds is remarkable:

Green vineyard and blue skies April 2024

Of course, April isn't without risk. The new growth is vulnerable to frosts, and days that top out in the low 60s can freeze at night. We saw some light damage from a cold night last weekend, and were grateful that it didn't come three weeks later, when the whole vineyard would have sprouted. These last few weeks of dormancy provide a striking contrast between the dark brown vine trunks and the electric green of the cover crops, as in this view of our Scruffy Hill block:

Puffy clouds over green Scruffy Hill April 2024

The flowers you see in the above photo are the daikon radishes from our cover crop. After our flock of sheep passes through, the plants that were grazed are stimulated to reproduce, sending up a carpet of flowers and seeds. That's even more dramatically in evidence in the head-trained Tannat block below:   

Flowing cover crop in dry-farmed Tannat April 2024

It's not just the growth of the cover crops and grapevines that make it feel so alive in April. Standing in the middle of the vineyard the buzz of bees and the chirping of birds envelop you. And looking down you can see the life in evidence everywhere:

Ladybug on Roussanne trunk

In April, there's still enough moisture in the air to provide a nice sense of distance, as visible in this view over the western edge of our property toward the peaks of the Santa Lucia Mountains roughly eight miles away:

Looking west from Crosshairs block in April

We'll be getting all this growth under control in coming weeks, with the goals of retaining the lovely moisture we got this winter, allowing cold air to drain and so reducing our risk of frost, and leaving the soil as undisturbed as possible while doing so to protect the soil networks. So the picture is going to change by the day.

I'll leave you with one photo, from a perspective easily visible if you approach Tablas Creek on Vineyard Drive from the south. As an introduction to Tablas Creek, I don't feel like we could do much better:

Tablas Creek sign and owl box on Scruffy Hill

Happy April, everyone.