The Indelible Winter
Farmers are constantly humbled by nature; we keep one eye on the past, while the other focuses on the future.
2023 has already been a year of extremes. The Adelaida district is dynamic and complex, making it outstanding for growing wines of place at Adelaida Vineyards and Winery. We have truly seen what the high ground brings in this winter of winds, rain, and snow!
It is lush and green outside, pruning has just wrapped, and the vines have begun emerging from dormancy. Around this time is when we make vigor management strategies for the year. From the end of the 2022 harvest to now, the property has received 40+ inches of rain, depending on what part of the vineyard you are standing in. Historically, these rainfall totals are not abnormal; however, seeing rainfall in rapid succession is problematic.
As sap flow begins its annual march from roots to shoots and the buds begin to swell, eventually bursting into the start of the 2023 vintage, we reflect on shoot growth from the prior vintage and whether we hit our vine balance targets. When growing perennial crops, planning can be tricky in deciding the best course of action for your new growing year. Vineyards "remember," if you choose to simplify it as much as that.
We will likely have lush canopies and the ability to dry farm with ease. Nature doesn’t always give us bountiful water, but when it does, we use it to its full potential. Due to this heavy rainfall, some of our vineyards may not see any irrigated water until post-harvest in 2023. Dry farming is uncommon in California vineyards, and we’re fortunate to have soils and farming practices passed down that allow us to farm as was done for generations before us. Our oldest vineyard in the ground is the historic 1964 planting of Pinot Noir in the HMR Vineyard. Roots literally and figuratively run deep at Adelaida!
We were fortunate to get November rains after we planted our cover crops post-harvest. If we didn’t have those gentle rains which started native and planted cover crops, it would have been a wildly different story. Needless to say, this has been a winter of excitement! We have endured rains that the Central Coast has not seen since 1969 and snowfall totals that only resemble any memorable significance coming most recently in the late 1980s.
As uncomfortable and, at times, life-threatening as this weather can be to humans on the Central Coast, the vineyard and its thousands of vines take it all in stride and welcome the wet and cold. The coastal mountain ranges and slopes prevent us from enduring prolonged wet soils and hard freezes that can split trunks of vines.