This week's rain has partially eliminated fears of drought in California Wine Country and Halleck VIneyard. Enough rain fell in these past days to make up for the entire months of January and February.
Prior, everyone was asking about the drought and its effect on the grapes. The short answer is, "No damage." We hadn't pruned, so the vines still thought it was winter, despite sunshine and sustained warm temperatures. We would have normally pruned by now. Our concern was if the warm weather continued, the vines may have thought it spring and budded early.
The microscopic flowers that become grapes soon would follow. If the rain ensued after bud break and flowering, we could have lost the crop to "shatter": the flowers are hit with water and can't polinate. If rain hadn't come at all, we were at risk of water shortage issues. In Sebastopol, we have plentiful wells from which we irrigate. So this still may not have been a problem in our little micro-region. But it was early for these concerns. As a farmer, I'm an optimist.
While there is plenty of rain, the soil can only hold so much before saturation. The rest runs off into the Sonoma Coast and Russian River Valley water sheds and hits the ocean. So our cup is not full, despite the abundance of water, frogs, snow in the Sierras and chilling temperatures. We need sustained rain over the winter season to assure a strong crop for 2014.