In January and February, the grapevines of Napa Valley lie dormant. Late winter is the time when mustard flowers emerge among the rows of vines to blanket the fields in a bright yellow cladding. Viewed from one of the iconic hot air balloon rides Napa Valley that floats daily, when the weather is ideal, above the region’s incredible landscape, the view is breathtaking.
By March, vineyard managers should have accomplished most of the essential pruning required to remove most of the prior season’s growth. Without pruning, the grapevines tend to grow unchecked and waste much of their carbohydrate resources on creating more vines and leaves that result in limited grape production.
To keep each vine’s focus on the production of abundant, delicious grapes, vineyard workers use the time to prune up to 90% of last year’s growth. Once the crews clip the cordons or arms of the vines to equal length on each side of the vine’s trunk, these are tied to the trellising wires to guide future vine growth appropriately.
Most of the clipped vines are discarded or recycled, although a few vines can be woven into baskets and other decorative and unique items.
February is also the best time for the crews to secure end posts and wires to sustain consistent vine development.
Avoiding Potential Frost Damage
As average temperatures in Napa Valley rise above 50˚F at the beginning of spring, the vines awaken, and the annual bud break occurs. New buds begin to grow, sometimes as much as an inch per day depending on weather conditions.
March is a critical month in grape development. Once bud break occurs, one major worry for the vineyard manager is a sudden, frost-producing cold snap that may severely impact crop yield. Fortunately, frost development is rare in Napa Valley, but vineyard managers here use wind circulators and heaters to prevent damage when needed.
Later in the spring, after the dangers of frost have passed, flowering occurs that will eventually develop into grape clusters that grow through the summer and well into the fall.
Visiting Napa Valley in the Early Spring
While most visitors come to Napa Valley during the summer and autumn’s outstanding harvest season, early spring is an excellent time to visit. The vineyards are reawakening, and the Valley’s springtime weather and rebirth are perfect for any outdoor activity. When you are bike riding, hiking, wine tasting, or soaring in one of the hot air balloon rides Napa Valley-style, you will encounter smaller crowds and a more relaxed environment than at any other time.
Napa Valley’s beauty, charm, and welcoming nature endure even during the “off-season.”
Take advantage of smaller crowds as you float effortlessly and safely above the Valley in one of our Napa Valley balloons. Hot air ballooning is safe, exhilarating, and a fabulous way to see the area.
For reservations for one of our hot air balloon rides Napa Valley, contact our Balloons Above the Valley reservationist at 1-800-464-6824.