This vineyard is right on the edge of the Napa city itself, where the vines are already beginning to blossom. Even though Napa is cooler than the rest of the valley, there's more direct exposure to the sun in these flat vineyards and the nights don't get as cold or foggy.
Slightly further up the Silverado Trail, Black Stallion's vines are well into the flowering process. These vines are probably Chardonnay, which is beginning to flower across Napa and Sonoma.
The next two vineyards are right next to each other on the Silverado Trail, yet in a completely different state. One is pruned and already beginning to show flowers, while the other is unpruned with wild cover crop, looking like it's in total disarray. Minimal pruning such as this originated in Australia, where it's widely practised. In warm climates, it increases yields without affecting quality. I don't know if this vineyard is deliberately following the Australian practice, or if it's simply because they've been waiting all winter for winter to actually happen. A month ago I visited Kelly Fleming Wines in Calistoga, where they hadn't pruned the vines yet. The reason was simple: they were waiting for it to rain before pruning, otherwise there was a chance any rain would spread fungal diseases in the vines. It still hasn't rained since.
At nearby Baldacci Family Vineyards in Stag's Leap, the vineyard workers were busy pruning the Cabernet Sauvignon vines, with still a bit of work to do. Here, the vines have been kept tidy with two canes left growing on the vine before being completely pruned this weekend. Winter pruning keeps the vine healthy, but also reduces vigour. Baldacci have likely been trying to keep a balance between healthy and vigorous vines over the dry, warm winter.
In Oakville, two of Napa's most prestigious and expensive wineries are taking similar but different approaches to tending their vines. Groth are letting the grass grow long between vines, which have been minimally pruned but then tidied by hand. Those at Plumpjack have the same trellis system and long grass between the rows, but the vines have been fully pruned.
Back towards Sonoma in the Carneros AVA, the Chardonnay vines are really beginning to bloom - what D. H. Lawrence called the "the bonfires green" of spring. Back in England, spring was one of my favourite seasons, when the bleakness of winter passes and the land livens up in colour. Here it's different, because the winter's as warm as an English summer, but seeing the vines come to life is still beautiful and invigorating, making me look forward to seeing the vines progress over the summer months.