After a warm winter, March has come in with more than three weeks of freezing night time temperatures. We can be thankful that none of our buds have pushed. Otherwise, we would have some serious problems.
Up on the 71st floor of the US Bank in Los Angeles, I enjoyed an informative luncheon at the elegant 71Above restaurant overlooking the city to the mountains and sea. At my table sat Michael Lewellen, the son of Royce Lewellen from Lucas & Lewellen Winery. Michael shared with me a little bit about himself and the history of his father’s winery with Louie Lucas.
A warm spring has really pushed our grapevines and we’re already seeing bloom. With the good winter rains, vines really look healthy, vigorous, and have great color. Our recent heat spell has pushed us even further, although the latest forecast is for a cooling trend and potential showers. It’s all part of farming!
We expect to be finished pruning by the end of this week and will be tying by mid next week, just in time to avoid knocking the buds off when we tie to the trellis system. Budding out this early will cause us to have a prolonged frost season. More rain would help protect the crop. At high moisture levels, frost damage is less severe. It still makes for a long time to be on call for frost protection.
This is round number 45 in the saga of growing grapes in Santa Barbara County! One last remark about last year’s vintage is that it should be exceptional. Our harvest was early and we were able to pick all grapes at optimum levels without any interference by Mother Nature.
We are still enjoying the remnants of winter and will finish pruning in ten or twelve days. That’s 450,000 reasons to be happy! With the lack of rain, we are starting to irrigate. A chance of rain is forecast for the next three days, which would be a great help.