To say that it’s been a rainy winter is almost an understatement.
January and February 2017 have been the wettest start to the year in two decades, as the Press Democrat reports, with rainstorm after rainstorm falling throughout Northern and Central California due to an atmospheric river. Excessive flooding has created some dangerous situations for many California residents, and we’re sending our best wishes to those impacted by the torrential rain.
The positive side of the weather is that, as Decanter reports, only 17% of California is now in drought, compared to 95% this time last year.
On the Ram’s Gate Estate, the rainfall has been largely beneficial, replenishing the groundwater and filling our reservoirs, which reached a point of being dangerously low during the peak of the drought.
Downhill from the vines, the estate entrance has become a bit of a wetland– ducks, herons and a cheerful otter have taken up temporary residence on site.
Fortunately, our Fish-Friendly Farming vineyard practices are in place specifically for this purpose: to ensure clean groundwater and a safe environment for all living things on the estate.
In the vine rows themselves, there’s no danger in the vines getting rained on. “It would be a different story if the vines were under water,” Luke says, “because vines need air–but because the vines are dormant, we aren’t worrying about mold or other rain-related viticultural risks.”
What does this weather mean for the growing season? “We’re coming from consecutive years of record-breakingly early budbreak,” notes Assistant Winemaker Luke. “The advantage to the years of early budbreak is it decreases the chance of harvesting during or after fall rains. But in years like this, a later start to the season means the grapes will ripen in a cooler part of the year–late summer into fall–so we’ll be picking based on flavor and phenolic ripeness rather than sugar levels.”
We’re keeping our eyes peeled for the first signs of budbreak and looking ahead to a later harvest than those we’ve experienced in the last three vintages, excited about the stellar flavor potential in a year like this.
In the meantime, the rain means perfect weather to cozy up by the fire with a glass of Pinot Noir.
We hope to see you at the winery soon!
Ram’s Gate Winery