I’m a fledgling Orange County gardener with a yard full of succulents, perennials, roses, and native grasses—plus, my one grape vine! Despite wine classes and wine books galore, I know little about actually growing my own grapes. I’ve taken my vine-tending cues from social media. If the wineries are touting pictures of pruning, then I’ll prune, too. Most California wine posts of the past two weeks have been about bud break. The vines are yawning their way out of winter dormancy and producing little green buds signaling the return of spring. And glory be, since I pruned with the vineyards, I too have bud break! As the vine starts awakening, the roots begin pumping water and stored nutrients through the stock to the limbs. This infusion of fluids and food causes the little buds to swell and “cry” droplets of water. It is the coolest thing ever. I kept knocking a tear off my vine buds to see if a new water drop would form again.
From bud break, to shoot, to leaf, the change is fast and furious. Bud break signals a pattern of flowering in about 40 days, or in late April for my little vine. I check it several times a day. I’m in awe and maybe a little creeped-out at the exponential change and growth. In celebration of my own bud break and swells of water, I decided to crack open a fresh gruner veltliner. This dry, acidic white wine hails from Austria and is a sommelier top choice due to its pronounced acidity and ease of pairing with food. Gruner veltliner is often topped with a crown cap, like a beer bottle, rather than a cork or screw-cap closure. I found the crown cap as a calling to sit in my back yard and empty the bottle.
My pour was a 2015 H&M Hofer Gruner Veltliner from just north of Vienna. This vineyard has been certified organic since 2001. The Hofers de-stem their grapes, macerate for a short time, and rest in stainless steel, creating a fresh, young, quaffable wine. It’s light-bodied, citrusy, with a hint of spice. With my vine in plain sight, the sun working on my untanned winter skin, and a book in hand, I savored this—my spring rite of passage—and began plotting my self-proclaimed flowering festival just 40 days from now.
H&M Hofer Gruner Veltliner (about $15) at Whole Foods