“Whether the weather be fine, Whether the weather be not,
Whether the weather be cold, Whether the weather be hot,
We’ll weather the weather, Whatever the whether,
Whether we like it or not.” -author unknown
We will weather even this lack of weather. As much of the rest of the nation digs out under feet of snow with arctic temperatures, those of us in Southern California are happy with unseasonably warm temperatures, and sunny days. That is unless you are a viticulturist who, like Gene Kelly, love singing in the rain.
We are classified as a Mediterranean climate, as are many of the worlds’ premier wine regions, with hot summer days, cool evenings and the majority of rainfall in the winter months. Average rainfall for Temecula is 14.4 inches with 84% falling November to March. To date, we have only received 2.43 inches when the historical average is 10 inches and almost all of it came in a single event from February 27th to March 1st. However, we have drip irrigation so “Why the long face, Plowboy?” I am asked. The winter rains play a vital role in the ecology of the semi-arid soils especially irrigated soils. Over the dry months salts tend to build in the upper areas around the root zones. The winter rains dilute and flush out excess salts and move nutrients into the root zone. Fortunately, we have added thousands of tons of mulch and organic matter to our soils over the last year. This, in conjunction with microbial treatments and natural additives, like humic acids, are compensating and making what could have been a poor year into a challenging year with prospects of a modest decreased yield but continuing improvements in the grapes and wine. For those of you who joined us for the Wilson Creek Wine Academy class on pruning, you got a hands-on demonstration of how we are managing our canopy to keep quality in the forefront.
The cellar, however, is having a great year. Our new winemaker, Gus Vizgirda, jumped in with both fee and bugle a-blazing. I am not kidding! Gus calls the crew to lunch, back to work and ends the day with bugle calls, so please stop calling Dept. of Wildlife with displaced moose sightings.
So while I am still praying for a late rain and Gus is practicing his bugle calls, the wines this year are better than ever and the future looks so bright that we are walking on sunshine (am I mixing my pop music metaphors?)
We look forward to seeing you at the winery.
– Greg “Bioman” Pennyroyal