“La Nina” years are supposed to be lean on rain, and the specific forecast for our wet season this year was early winter rain, followed by relatively dry weather. And this looked brilliant for awhile there, with notably heavy rain in late December/early January yielding to several weeks on end of sunny skies and warming temperatures in January and early February. But cool, wet rains have been very persistent since late February, with more rain forecast in the days ahead, promising yet another relatively late bud burst and compact spring season.
The vineyard is like a tightly coiled spring right now. While not a single bud has pushed and there are only minimal indications of bud swelling, the ground is completely saturated with water, the days are getting palpably longer, and the temperatures are slowly creeping up. One senses that the vines–not to mention the cover crops and weeds–can’t wait to start their explosive early season growth–but consistent cool rains and limited sunshine have kept them all in check. As usual, the extension of the “off season” is welcome to some degree since there is always more to do than time to do it, but at some point, the lateness is not welcome, as it makes for a more hectic early season and pushes other vineyard activities into a time of unbearable heat. Right now, with our barbera vineyard completely pruned and pruning begun on the other varietals, all is orderly and serene. But, we know too well that it is the calm before the storm.