What was mere speculation and conjecture just a few weeks ago is now a reality on the North Fork.

Shinn Estate Vineyards’ David Page sent me this photo this morning of bud break in their estate merlot vineyard, marking what appears to be the earliest bud break Long Island wine country has ever seen. The grape-growing process is a marathon, not a sprint, but the North Fork is certainly out of the gate early.

Now local growers get to stress over nighttime low temperatures for the next month or so, hoping to avoid crippling frosts that could decimate their crops.

Hopefully we’ll get some more bud break pictures from across the state as it happens. Stay tuned.