What's with the weather? I can't remember the last real rain and ski season is supposed to be in full swing. It's been the iciest winter that I can remember, having grown up in the general vicinity. This photo is from, normally, a waterfall above our winery. This year it is an ice sculpture. It's quite beautiful but a little disturbing. We've had ice and dry winters over the years, but this seems a little unusual.
I have fielded many questions on the effects on the vines of little rain and the icy temps but, for now, it is of no consequence in the vineyard except that you can take tractors out in the vineyard, if necessary, and get some of the spring chores done. It's probably a good idea, in fact, since the next thing we know there will be some deluges around the corner and another late, wet spring.
Wine grapevines, specifically Vitus vinifera, can tolerate temperatures down to 10 degrees Fahrenheit without any damage during the dormant season. I should mention that this includes most table and raisin grape varieties. Back East, some of the other Vitus species (think Welch's grape juice) and hybrids can tolerate down to -10 degrees Fahrenheit so they are much more winter hardy. Unfortunately, these varietals are not known to make world-class wines. "Winter kill" is the farming term for an unfortunate combination of species and location. Places like eastern Washington are a great deal more susceptible to this danger and there may be some stories of loss after the icy winter there.
On the subject of drought, again, it's not really a factor at this time but we do need the aquifer restored for the late summer irrigation season seemingly so far away. So many changes are in store for the rest of the winter but the daffodils are starting to bloom, the crocuses are popping out and I saw some new poison oak leaves today. Spring is around the corner and the vineyards will be thriving with activity to get the vines on course for another growing season -- just when we thought we could take it a little bit easy. I still feel a touch of those post-crush blues but nothing a real ski season can't remedy. Hmm. Maybe there's a problem here?