Today has been a gorgeous day in Wine Country. We are praying for rain, but basking in sunshine. I did a 3 hour cycle through the vineyards north of Sebastopol. There were about 20 of us. It was a peloton of athletic middle-aged guys in sleek bike attire. All were businessmen: wine, finance, engineering, CPG, you name it. The majority continued on through the afternoon, but I had to head back for a tasting at noon.
The vineyard will get pruned tomorrow. We have been waiting for winter to express itself. It appears that we will have real weather this week. Storms are predicted in succession starting on Wednesday. This will assuage lingering concerns of drought should it deliver as the meteorologists suggest. And snow in the Sierras for skiing!
Next weekend is barrel tasting for those wineries dressed in their weekend best for visitors. If you are coming up, I am hosting a very private barrel tasting on Saturday morning. We do not have a "hospitality center" with barrels displayed horizontally on a tasting room floor. We will be in the barrel room, climbing ladders and pouring out of long wine thieves. Bungs will be pulled and replaced from each draw. Glasses will be on barrel heads and we will be spitting into floor gutters. This is the real deal. Each cooper (barrel maker) imparts its mark on the very same wine. It is amazing to experience.
The 2013 wines are stunning. We only have room for 12. So let me know.
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.