Sunday, April 6, 2008

2008: Another drought year.

It's looking like 2008 will be another drought year. According to Don Mussell's rainfall gauge rainfall to date is a little over 48", roughly 8" more than at this point last year, and just 4" more than last year's total, which was the lowest for many years. We've had a few showers recently, but nothing significant; there's only been about 1" of rain sice late February. We can probably expect some April showers, but unless there's some major storm activity it will be the second driest since 2000/01 (66" is the annual average). And though that's tough for growers it's probably good for consumers since drought years tend to produce the best wines.

Budbreak - the moment when the vine's buds put out their first green leaves - started about three weeks ago. Growers up and down the coast have been reporting occasional frost; in some areas they've been using frost prevention techniques such as spraying water or air circulation - that's what those big fans are for that you often see in valley vineyards. While driving around Pleasant Valley last week I noticed that several of the vineyards still hadn't been pruned, presumably as insurance against frost.