Weather Watching

As we are in the middle of bud break, we are also watching the weather for several important reasons.

  • Frost – If it freezes for long enough in our cozy section of Dry Creek Valley (locally known as the Banana Belt), shoots and clusters will wilt and die.  We rely on passive frost protection which worked for 50 years until the Merlot was frozen in Spring 2008.  Pretty good odds so we continue to rely on these methods.
  • Cover crop management – Passive frost protection is based on the exposure of soil to the warming rays of the sun.  But not just any soil – the best is dark, wet, firm, exposed soil that can absorb that heat and radiate it back at night.  Keeping our cover crop mowed low is crucial.  But we do need to keep the cover crop viable to help dry out the soil as the rains recede.  We will eventually make mow vs disk decisions depending on rainfall in the next month and the need for competition within each individual block of grapes.
  • Mildew pressure – We need to exit this weather pattern to cool, windy days to help remove humidity.  Mildew spores are everywhere and just need the right combination of warmth and humidity to grow.  We started the season with dormant sulfur sprays and will continue to fight this ever present threat this Spring with Stylet oil – a great product approved for use in organic vineyards.

It can sometimes seem like a juggling act with decisions needed for each varietal block but we have been through this many times before and, while we can’t control the weather, we feel confident we can deal with most issues, with frost excluded!

By | 2010-03-30T22:35:56+00:00 March 29th, 2010|Grapegrowing|Comments Off on Weather Watching

Summer Weather Explained

The unusually cool and foggy weather that we have had through July and now into August has origins in a cold Pacific Decadal Oscillation (PDO) says Dr. Greg Jones, professor of climatology from Southern Oregon University, as quoted by Glenn McCourty in “Grounded Grapegrowing” in the August 2009 issue of Wines and Vines.

PDO is a Pacific Ocean weather oscillation, specific to north of 20 degrees north latitude, that involves surface water temperatures.  Warm temperatures in the Eastern Pacific are accompanied by cool temperatures in the Western Pacific or vice versa.  These temperature swings normally vary over decades.

The Pacific Coast climate is affected by both PDO and the El Nino-Southern Oscillation (ENSO). ENSO involves a larger swath of the earth and includes ocean temperatures and atmospheric changes. ENSO El Nino and La Nina changes are responsive to temperature changes in waters of the eastern Pacific Ocean.

Finally, an explanation that makes sense! When a cold PDO brings cooler and drier-than-normal weather to California AND ENSO is in the La Nina phase, this results in cold springs, and cooler-than-normal growing seasons. La Nina influences are weakening and the forecast is that we will return to a “neutral” pattern later this year.

By | 2009-08-06T16:46:28+00:00 August 6th, 2009|Current Events|Comments Off on Summer Weather Explained

Already August

The weather this year has been quite unusual, but in a good way. Normally, we swing from quite warm days into quite cool and foggy days as our little valley is quite influenced by the Pacific Ocean via the Russian River.  This year the grapegrowing season has been especially cool.  This leads to the gradual accumulation of great aromas and flavors and we are quite excited to see the grapes continue to slowly mature.

How can it be August already?  Time flies during the summer growing season as we are constantly working in the vineyard.  Whether moving our trellis system wires up to contain and focus growth upwards or directing wayward shoots back into the trellis system; counting clusters and removing those lagging behing the rest; or watching our vine water status with our pressure bomb, the tasks never end until harvest!

By | 2009-08-02T22:06:11+00:00 August 2nd, 2009|Grapegrowing|Comments Off on Already August