Winter and Early Spring

I’m sure some of you have seen our interesting weather here in the Napa area on the news. At the New Year we had pretty big rains that caused flooding and some damage. We used to think it was unusual, but it’s become not an every year occurrence, but at least an every 10 year occurrence. As most of you are probably aware, rain in that time of year, when the vines are dormant (without any growth on them), really doesn’t affect them, other than to fill the soil profile. Or in the case of some of the flooding, you can obviously have damage if debris is crossing a low lying vineyard. Vines can actually get taken out, and in some isolated cases that did happen.

In terms of the type of vintage that we can expect for 2006, all the rain doesn’t have much to do with it, except fill the soil profile with water. In California that’s what makes all agriculture go, so it’s not a bad thing.

Early spring is an interesting matter. You may have also heard that March has had a couple of incidences in which the snow level had come down to 1000 feet. We have been fairly cold, with a few frost mornings. I know a lot of people who work in the vineyards have been busy of late. People with varieties that bud out early (like chardonnay) do have some buds that can be susceptible to damage from the cold.

It is a little bit unusual March. It’s not unusual for us to see a little snow in November, certainly in December and I’ve even seen some in February, but this year it’s been pretty late. March is pretty late. It’s certainly been cooler and wetter, so our bud break will probably be later. When the soil is wet and it’s cold like this the vines just don’t want to get going, which is a good thing. The few exceptions that are out there that need to be frost protected are of coarse an issue. For Selene, nothing has budded out at this point so there is no damage. There are most likely a few chardonnay vineyards that may have had some damage. It takes a while to assess the full extent of the damage. It will be a number of weeks before we see any reports.

The week of the 20th we might actually see some drying and get into the 60’s so we could see some real good bud break weather. My mom had a great saying about March, it either came in like a lion and out like a lamb, or it came in like a lamb and out like a lion. Certainly this one came in like a lion.