Grapevine Notes From Ted
The headline news does not have to remind us we are in a drought, we see it in the vineyards! Our forests are dry, our local ecosystems are dry, our concern for wild fires is ever mounting. Drought affects all crops and grapevines are no exception, but what is our experience in the Napa Valley? Let’s take a deeper look...
Public perception is that the growing season starts with bud break and ends with harvest, but that is an over-simplification. The growing season is year-round, starting at the end of the previous year’s harvest. In fact, rain after harvest and before dormancy, can have a dramatic effect on the next vintage. Let’s take a look back over the past four years. For Oakville, 2019 was a wet year at 38 inches of rainfall, with most of the rain coming in January and February at the front of green shoot growth, the canopy, crop and harvest was very normal. Year 2020 followed with only 8.43 inches total for the entire year, with very little rain post-harvest. It was an exceptional drought year that affected the canopy, shoot growth and crop. With very little rain post-harvest of 2020 in October-November, the growing season for 2021 started out a consecutive drought year with only 7.6 inches during the winter and spring, not much to catch up, which affected the foliage, manifested short shoot growth and lower crop. Then comes the interesting part, post-harvest of 2021, in October -December, Oakville had 19 inches, a rebound which greatly affects the 2022 harvest. So how does this affect the vines? The growing season for 2022 started with that rainfall in October-December of 2021. At the end of harvest, the rain in October will stimulate the vines, which still have green leaves, to store carbohydrates in the roots, which are important for the budbreak in 2022, and for even shoot growth. Not only is it important for the new shoots of 2022, the ground water is in better shape, the aquafers have more water, our reservoirs have more water, and overall, the vines are in better shape with more even growth. With that being said, the green growing period of 2022 has had very little rainfall, but as I said, the vines are doing well and looking better than they did in 2021 because of the rain that occurred post 2021 harvest. Bottom line is that we have had plenty of water for the 2022 growing season! The vine canopy are more full in 2022 but not over grown. The cluster count seems to be less than average and the berries seem to be small. I think when all is said and done, the weight and crop size will be below average but that is not a bad thing…remember small berries make a great wine with lots of dept, color and extract of flavor! As I write this newsletter in August, the weather has been very moderate, near ideal…I’m looking forward to a good harvest and making great wines!