2011 growing season update

Phew! It’s been a while since I sat at the computer and wrote. I’ve been very busy lately, but the keyboard was calling me today.

Last weekend we experienced a lot of rain, for this time of year, and even some hail in certain areas. From what I’ve seen, this late-ish weather hasn’t affected the growing season. It’s not unusual for us to receive rain in May, but usually it’s just a light sprinkle. Some parts of wine country accumulated more than an inch of rain – pretty high for this time of year.

We’re very lucky here in Northern California. It’s usually dry from the beginning of May until late October. Basically, the same time frame as the wine grape growing season. A good thing for sure. Some other parts of the world that also grow wine grapes struggle with frost and rain and hail and many other factors all season long. Don’t let a vineyard manager or winemaker hear me say it, but we’ve got it pretty easy here in California compared to many other growing regions.

The reality is that it’s not easy to grow quality wine grapes anywhere. It take a lot of work. And hours and hours of labor. Plus it’s hard work. The vines are usually planted low to the ground meaning anytime someone has to work on the vine they are bent over causing lots of stress on their back. Most people don’t realize that each vine is touched by the human hand between 8 and 10 times during the year. From pruning to suckering and chute positioning to actually picking the grapes. A lot happens throughout the year.

Back to the update: I’ve taken a look at several vineyards and I haven’t seen any bloom (or flowering) happening. It has yet to really heat up here and if we had experienced an early heat wave the vines would be further along than they are. Then, this rain that we had last week could have been disastrous. If heavy rain or hail occur during bloom it can cause the grapes not to pollinate. Without pollination, there will be no mature grapes. No grapes, no wine. Not good.

A quick note on pollination: Wine grapes are self-pollinating. They do not need the bees to ensure maturation.

More to come this Spring / Summer. I’m just getting fired up for the season. Stay tuned…


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