Bud break has begun and is widespread in Chardonnay and Pinot Noir throughout Sonoma County, according to Duff Bevill, owner of Bevill Vineyard Management, Healdsburg, Calif.

“Some Malbec is pushing, as are some blocks of Merlot. The Chardonnay started about 10 days ago in Alexander Valley and Dry Creek and is now showing green in nearly all regions. Some blocks of Pinot and Chardonnay required frost protection in the Russian River last week, but I'm not aware of any locations where the temperature dropped enough to cause damage to unprotected sites.”

Winter rains have been good, but areas dependent on canal water are expecting cutbacks in growing-season deliveries.

“We’ve had close to average rainfall to date, and we’re expecting more in April before the year wraps up,” Bevill says. “We’re anticipating an average crop year, barring any crisis.”

Farther south, the situation is essentially the same.

“Grape shoots are emerging,” says Maxwell Norton, Merced County University of California Cooperative Extension farm advisor. “Vineyards should have been prepared for frost by now — bare, firm, moist soil under the vines and cover crops mowed very short.”