This has been an incredibly dry winter—the driest on record for most of California, and bad enough to put us into an official drought emergency. We’ve had a lot of people ask what this means for the grapes.
The primary concern right now: protecting the fruit from frost. When there is a threat of frost, many growers turn on their sprinklers to coat the budding vines with ice; it might seem counterintuitive, but this protects the buds from frost damage. Our warm, dry winter creates the potential for an early bud break, which means a longer frost season . . . with potentially no water to run the sprinklers. A dry winter also typically results in less fruit, and any frost damage could further reduce yields.
The 10-day forecast calls for rain. Our fingers are crossed that it will materialize and we’ll start seeing a more normal winter weather pattern.