I believe in Global Warming, but I sure don’t believe in the the rainfall predictions from forecasters early in the season. Last year was supposed to be a HUGE rainfall season with El Nino…but it ended up about normal. This year is La Nina and they have predicted average rainfall…yet it looks to be very wet in Sonoma County. If you watch the national news we will have are having an “Atmospheric River” of rain…and we are having severe flooding in the area. We at Turtle Vines are not in a flood area but this was the worst winter storm since 2005 in Sonoma County. That one caused ~$100M of damage, hopefully this one is not as bad…let’s hope.
PS From a vineyard standpoint, a cold winter is nice to delay bud break and a good soaking late March, early April is fantastic so we avoid watering until July or August for flavor development. Just no rain May/June as that would be bad for powdery mildew and botrytis.
Average Rainfall 2016/2017 Season
October 2.0″ 5.7″
November 5.9″ 3.4″
December 6.3″ 6.0″
January 8.7″ 8.5″ as of 1/9/17
For those of you in other parts of the country having an arctic blast caused by El Nino this year and you wondered…must be a lot of rain in Wine Country. Well…not so much. We are a little under our normal rainfall total so far in 2016 and it has now been dry for 12 days (and counting) and it doesn’t look much rain until the 23rd of February. Good news is they are predicting a wetter than normal March. Hopefully we get a lot of rain to fill the reservoirs and end the drought, but doesn’t look like it. At least for us in wine country, rain in March is great as it fills the soil with moisture that will last until July for the grapevines.
Good news – mid 70’s here in February!
Bad news – soil will warm up and cause an early bud break!
I’m sure all the news east of California has massive rainfall with flooding in California…and the drought it over. But that is not the case here in Northern California.
GOOD NEWS – We are getting moderate amounts of rainfall here in Russian River Valley spread over a long period of time which is soaking the soil without flooding. The rainfall/storm window continues to remain open with the prospect of more rain for the foreseeable future. We have not had any big storms and El Nino storms historically have come in February. In addition, the snowpack is growing in the mountains and in much better shape than last year (see picture above)
BAD NEWS – We are below last years rainfall total and below our long term average. Sebastopol is currently at 19″ for the rain year and we need to get 45″ just to get to our average. Hate to say it but we need about 5″ of rain for the next 6 weeks! Just hope it is constant and not all at once.
As much as would like to be outside pruning and getting ready for the year…let it rain!!!
As farmers we live and die by the weather, in fact I get a wine industry weather report sent to me every day via email so I can plan my week. Grapevines need moisture in the winter and fall to replenish the soil. They need to be warm in the spring and hot, but not to hot, in the summer and fall. Pinot Noir likes the range of temperatures in the days and nights to be large to develop wonderful flavors.
This brings me to this post on rainfall. Sebastopol (in Sonoma County) for 2013 has had only 8.1 inches of rain as of mid-December (I hope it rains during the holidays). Normally we get 36.3 inches of rain, with most of it coming in the winter and spring to recharge the soil and fill the aquifers. . If we don’t get much rain this winter I think the vines will suffer and we will get a smaller crop for 2014. Global climate change, El Nino, who knows…I know I may regret saying this as I need time to get ready for the growing season and prune in the spring…but I sure wish it would rain a lot this winter. Sure we can irrigate, but it is not the same.