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.
Yesterday I was out in the vineyard sowing insectary flowers every 10th row. I’m hoping this will help our organic vineyard attract beneficial insects in future years. As I started my day I heard running water near the back of the barn and you can see in the picture above what I found…our 1.5″ vineyard irrigation pipe had broken due to the cold weather and was gushing water!!! This could have been a disaster had I not been home when this happened as we are connected to a well.
I know it was only 27F, nothing compare to most parts of the country, but I’m guessing the PVC setup was causing stress on the system and the cold exacerbated the piping and it broke! Looks like another winter project around the vineyard to keep me busy.
FYI…normally in the winter the low temperature is around 35F, since we are only 20 minutes from the ocean. Record lows for most months are 22F, so this was pretty cold for us.
Why am I moving the hoses? Well…when I put the irrigation hoses in I put the drips about 6” uphill from the vines with the connection hoses vertical. Now, I want to move them in-between the vines so that the roots will seek out water. Secondly, I needed to put in rebar next to the hose to make sure it does not stick out in the row when I mow…this the black ties. Lastly, at the end of the rows I used long black ties to secure the end of the hose to the endposts. This will keep the hose from drooping during the year and give it that finished look.
These little items are perfect winter projects, and they will make my life much easier next year.