Sonoma County Vineyard

Wednesday, January 27, 2010


For three Winters now we (that's a collective wine country / California we) have been praying to the rain gods, hoping they were listening. Apparently, they all decided to get together over the last 12 days. It's been non-stop downpours here in Northern California. It seams as if we've received more rain over the last 2 weeks than we have in all of the last 3 years combined.

The rain is much needed, as is the snow-pack in the Sierra. This past Spring and Summer there was a lot of water rationing. So much that some vineyard managers had to choose early on whether they were going to frost protect (early in the season) or irrigate (later in the season).

Frost protection can happen a number of different ways, but one of the most cost effective ways is through a sprinkler system that coats the grapes with water which then freezes. The frozen water acts to protect the grapes and keeps them from freezing. Seams kind of strange and counter-intuitive, but it works. Many vineyards are set up this way.

Irrigation is the norm around here, although there are some vineyards that are still "dry farmed". That is, they don't use any water at all. It's pretty risky, but the grapes can be amazing.

When you have to choose, it's not a good year. Most would choose irrigation and take their chances that the frost event (if there was one) wouldn't cause too much damage.

The good news? If, and I mean if, it keeps raining there should be enough water this year that having to choose won't be an issue.

So, while the sun was a beautiful warm distraction from the rain today, we need more of the wet stuff. I admit, I really enjoyed the sun: windows down, sunroof open and sunglasses on, but bring on the rain for at least a few more weeks. Please.

Oh, and while I'm writing this, I'm drinking an 05 Quivira Wine Creek Ranch Zinfandel and it is awesome!


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