You may have heard about some pretty epic rainfall Northern California and the Napa Valley has received this Winter. Our usual amount for a season is 27 inches of rain. According to our Winemaker, we’ll land somewhere around 65 inches this year. So yes, it’s been a bit soggy.
Some of you have been curious about what that means for growing grapes. It makes for muddy boots, slow pruning & cold hands but we’re going with the (proverbial) flow. The grapevines are dormant at this time of year, so there’s really no immediate effect on the plant. Thankfully, we have estate vineyard sites that are generally sloped and with rocky, well-drained soils. The rains have been intense, but short events, and so our soils allowed the moisture to recede.
The rain will affect the way we farm this vintage. Largely we farm soils that don’t hold moisture well so any extra moisture that we can farm with is literally ‘heaven sent’. However, in areas where the soil can hold more moisture, we will fine tune ground water evaporation to dampen vine vigor: We’ll be mowing more this season instead of plowing and tilling. Leaving weed stubble (in place of a dust mulch, which helps preserve soil moisture) will help convey the excessive moisture that is in the ground into the atmosphere- essentially some moisture competition for our vines.
In the end, Mother Nature calls the shots… and we do our best to listen and respond.