This week we noticed bud break in the vineyard, random little green flags waving in the rows among the pop-corning buds. Our super warm winter has encouraged this to happen a full month before it happened in 2014 and a month-and-a-half before it happened in 2013.
While growers around the Russian River Valley have been greeting each other with, “Pray for rain,” for a while, the drought is now becoming a concern for all Californians. With the drought obvious every time we look out a window – we have almost no cover crop and very little green growth in our yard to help with soil retention – Gantz Family Vineyards has been doing what we can to conserve water. Here are some tips that have worked for us and might work for you, too:
Veraison -- when our hard, green Pinot Noir grapes soften and darken in color -- is early at Gantz Family Vineyards, as it is in most of wine country. But, as the farmers say, it's right on time.
The first time I saw one bud open, on April 4, I was ecstatic. "We've got bud break!" I shouted. But Clay, ever the pragmatist, felt we couldn't "call" it until 50 percent of the vines showed leaves. From that first moment to the 50 percent mark was about an hour, it seemed. Suddenly the entire vineyard was a sea of green.
While staying in our home, Mike and Dede saw the pruning taking place and rushed out to capture the moment in words and pictures. Here’s what they saw...
We've already taken our first step toward a healthy growing season by establishing a cover crop between our 109 vine rows. Located in the six feet between rows, the cover crop helps to reduce erosion, eliminate weeds, add nutrients to the soil and provide habitat for beneficial insects.
The slow down of work means more time for friends.
Jake and I wake up this morning to what sounded like the attack scene from Apocalypse Now. The big fans, called wind machines, are running across the Russian River Valley as frost protection from this 32º morning.