We are just completing our yearly task of pruning the vines. One of the grapes that we prune nearly last is Nebbiolo. It loves to come out early so by pruning late, we delay budbreak by a couple of weeks to hopefully carry it past the frost season.
We are nearly 75% of the way through harvest. So far, we’ve only had an inch of rain, two heat waves, two fires, and a near frost. Thankfully, the weather was good before and after each of those events so, believe it or not, everything is looking good in the vineyard.
Yesterday I was driving around the vineyards - spring has sprung. Pinot Grigio and Nebbiolo vines have at least 6-8 inches of growth already and the rest of the varieties are not far behind. We had a wet winter and with spring comes wind, sun, and a remote chance of frost. A few nights ago, I had a 34.6°F reading in a couple of our vineyards.
Having farmer mentality, I would like to start with the weather report. The saying “When it rains, it pours!” describes winter so far. We have already reached thirteen inches of rain, which is our yearly average for most of our vineyards. Our vines are in good position with plenty of water in the soil, which means we won’t have to irrigate until June and we will be finished by late July.
Grapevines are growing faster than we can get the work done. The growth of our vines has already exceded last year’s full growth and we still have 60 days until harvest. Farming is controlled by Mother Nature.
Believe it or not, we will be picking grapes probably by the 10th. Our first pick will most likely be Pinot Grigio from Santa Maria which will go to Toccata. Our Pinot Grigio crop in Santa Maria is excellent but in Los Alamos, about 1/3 of the crop did not develop. The resulting loss is over 75 tons of fruit.
Seems like we always talk about the weather. It is definitely a major factor in farming. This may become the earliest harvest in my 44 years in Santa Barbara County. The drought is only partly responsible. We are already finishing spraying and will irrigate more but bird netting is already taking place. We have a good chance of picking grapes mid-August instead of the usual mid-September. So things like our late August bottling schedule will now become part of harvest. Megan and the winery have their hands full between trying to get one harvest in the bottle and the next harvest back into the tanks.