Dry farming isn't a new concept, but it has taken on renewed significance in the last decade. Plants can’t talk. But any gardener knows that if you listen and pay attention, your plants will tell you what they need. Brown sunburned spots on the leaves say it’s getting too much sun. A lemony yellow tinge can mean too much water. A droopy stem is a plant’s way of saying “I’m thirsty.”
Each vintage has its own personality and is remembered for different things. From heavy rains to heat, and wildfires to earthquakes, responding to each year’s challenges often defines what goes into the bottle. The 2016 vintage, however, can be characterized by some of the most consistent weather we’ve had in California for years.
It’s close to a month before we expect to see the first grapes, and I’m still trying to answer the question, “How is this year’s harvest looking?” The growing season got started with the long anticipated El Niño rains, which certainly helped replenish the reservoirs and ground water after four consecutive dry years.
The hills are green and the vineyards are striped with yellow mustard here in Sonoma County, thanks to the early (and welcomed) El Niño rains. Although there’s still a long road ahead to complete drought relief, we are starting off the 2016 growing season with flowing streams and replenished soils.