April showers bring May flowers, but where are the showers? Last year we had seven inches of rain in April. This year we had none in March or April and it doesn’t look like we have any more coming. Grapes are not big users of water but they do need it.
The most important task that we do in the vineyard is pruning. This morning I was driving my 2004 Ford F-150, “The Dustmobile”, through two rows of grapevines, admiring the pruning job. What we do in January and February determines what kind of grapes we get in September and October
Today we are experiencing the first truly hot day of the year. At Valley View, it peaked at 106°F for a few minutes To me, the vines are a little behind schedule although, with warmer weather, we might catch up. Right now, we are expecting harvest to be late August to the first of September.
We’ve had two major heat spells and made it through without any major issues in the vineyard or with water shortages. Last Friday I saw my first sign of veraison - a little black berry showed up on a bunch at the High 9 Vineyard. It means that we’re at about 40 days to harvest. So I pushed the panic button! We have wine that still needs to be bottled and Dan still needs to put on the finishing touches in the vineyard.
We are still living under drought conditions. Our wells continue to produce at about a 50% level, which is nearly adequate for irrigation. Our water district for the Valley View Vineyard originally scheduled for 5% state water, then raised their estimate to 45%, and then raised it again last week to 60%. Conditions in northern California have greatly improved the availability of state water.
Today has been an exciting day. It’s the first day of harvest and we are picking ten tons each of Los Alamos Chardonnay and Los Alamos “Clone 777” Pinot Noir. We are trying to duplicate what we did in 2008 when we made our multiple Gold Medal and Best of Class winning Brut Sparkling Wine.