Introduction to Viticulture

There are few views in the world more magical than a lush vineyard path leading up to your favorite winery. At Augusta Vin, our vineyard team takes special care to maintain our Estate vines to provide the highest quality grapes possible for our winemaker and, finally, for you!

Grape vines are notoriously picky plants and require a great deal of attention during all stages of the growth cycle. We often hear about Bud Break and Harvest, but how do grapes really grow? What is the big deal about Bud Break, and why do we celebrate it? This masterclass will cover the basics of the viticulture cycle and what life is like in the Augusta Vin Vineyard.

Grapevine Growth Cycle

Bud break: The first appearance of the grape’s bud, an underdeveloped primordial grape shoot located along the vine’s nodes, is the start of the grape’s annual growth cycle. This begins in the spring, and varies depending on region.

For Texas, Bud Break usually occurs in early March due to the regularity of late freezes. Buds are delicate and can be damaged by frost, so our team takes special care to help the vines time their bud break to match warmer spring weather. This moment is one for celebration! Bud break signals the beginning of the long-awaited season for grape development, ripening, and harvest–the promise of delicious wine to come.

This year, Bud Break was recorded on March 12th with this first Tannat bud!

Flowering: Small flower clusters will emerge from the bud about 40 – 80 days following bud break, depending on regional terroir, including temperature, climate, and elevation. Because of Texas’ warm weather, this stage usually occurs near late April and early May. Shortly after the flower clusters appear, the flowers bloom, beginning the pollination and fertilization cycle.

Fruit set: This stage follows flowering almost immediately, as the fertilization cycle produces seeds and grapes begin to form to protect the seeds.

Veraison: The young grape berries begin green and hard to the touch. The veraison stage creates a change in berry color. During this time, red varietals acquire their redish-purple shade and white wines lighten or darken based on the varietal. Because they are, in essence, almost exclusively skin and seed, the grape starts with intense tannins and low sugar. Veraison signals the beginning of the ripening season, which usually takes about 40 – 60 days. Grapes will begin veraison at different times, depending on variety, terroir factors, and vine positioning. For example, those closer to warmth and sunlight will begin the veraison process sooner than grapes hidden under the vine’s cool canopy.

Harvest: Generally starting in late July and running until early September for Texas, harvest is the momentous and time-sensitive final stage in a grape’s life cycle. Viticulturists test and focus on each varietal’s ripeness over the vineyard, analyzing brix and pH levels for harvest readiness to pick the clusters at their peak flavor. Harvest begins before the sun comes up to prevent sunlight from warming the grapes. Time is of the essence during

After Harvest: After the grapes have been removed, the vines continue their normal photosynthesis cycle. No longer providing nutrients to the grape clusters, the vines gather carbohydrate reserves and enter their winter dormancy period. Pruning and maintenance manage and prepare the vines for the spring’s bud break, and the growing cycle begins once again.

What does Estate Mean, Really?

2017 saw the first vines planted on the Augusta Vin property. Today, we have 11 different varietals, covering 60 acres between our production facility and tasting room. Here are some fun facts from Vineyard Manager Jack Beyleu!

Varietals: Counoise, Sagrantino, Petite Sirah, Malbec, Souzao, Tempranillo, Tannat, Mourvedre, Cabernet Sauvingnon, Albarino, and Picpoul Blanc
Vines per Acre: Our vineyard features approximately 1,200 – 1,300 vines per acre. Each vine is planted about 4 feet apart. This spring, our production and tasting room teams planted just over 4,200 new vines! We predict a harvest of two tons per acre for the 2020 vintage!
Harvest Predictions: We anticipate a harvest of two tons per acre for the 2020 vintage!
Soil Type & Elevation: The Augusta Vin Estate vineyard grows at an elevation of about 1,500 feet above sea level, with black clay and sandy loam soil.
Weather Patterns & Challenges: Texas offers a number of interesting weather challenges for viticulture. Starting the year with sporadic freezes and the potential for late frost and hail that threatens the delicate buds after bud break. Following this, the hill country also sees wet weather days and sunny humidity which threaten mildew on the vines. Lately, the weather has been ideal for vineyard management.
What’s happening now in the Vineyard?: Thanks to the nice weather, our vineyard and tasting room teams have partnered together to plant new vines and shoot-thin our more mature “5-leaf” vines. Shoot-thinning is a pruning process that opens airflow in the vines and removes shoots that are either growing straight down or in a direction that would not allow the vine to cordon. These shoots do not support the weight of grape clusters and would break if not managed. Shoot-thinning promotes not only healthy vine growth, but also helps the vine produce lush grapes for harvest.

Sight

Clarity: Clear

Concentration: Medium

Color: Platinum Yellow

Nose

Intensity: Medium

Age: Young

Fruit: Pear, Spiced Apple

Non-Fruit: Honeysuckle
Earth/Herb: Flint

Palate

Sweetness: Dry

Fruit: Orange Peel, Key Lime, Granny Smith Apple

Non-Fruit: Honeysuckle

Earth/Herb: Seashell

Bitterness: Low

Acid: Moderate-plus

Alcohol: Medium
Finish: Crisp

A proprietary blend of Trebbiano, we love pairing our Brisk White with a selection of cured meats & hard cheeses such as Asiago and Pecorino Romano/Sardo. For dinner, try this wine with Shrimp Scampi, Garlic Alfredo Pizza, or Carbonara Pasta!

Tasting Notes by:
Andre Boada, Advanced Sommelier – Augusta Vin
April Fischer, Sommelier – Augusta Vin, Tasting Room Manager

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