THE THING ABOUT RAIN

From John, February 19th, 2014
Cameron rain gauge

Cameron rain gauge

When you grow grapes the way we do, depending on Mother-Nature to provide us with ample moisture through the year, the advent of the winter rains is a welcome indicant of the year to come.  Without sufficient moisture in the soil, it is of course more of a struggle for the vines to progress through the summer.  With excessive moisture, vine vigor can become excessive.  In either case, the state of the vine imprints itself on the resulting fruit.

In the Fall, rain prior to harvest can have both magical and disastrous consequences.  At the end of a long, dry summer timely rains will rejuvenate vines, slow down maturation of the fruit and prevent desiccation of the fruit.  During the middle of harvest, rain can delay the process as well as contribute to the onset of fungal diseases.

Thus precipitation, how much we receive and when we receive it, is a crucial player in the definition of each vintage.  As a result it is also an important contributing part of what we call “terroir”.

As we become more urbanized as a society, wine, especially local wine, provides a picture of this relationship between man and the weather around him.  2011 was a cool summer with a wet autumn and very late harvest and the wines reflect that.  2012,  remember that heat in August?  That was followed by a little rain in early September to recover the vines and picture-perfect harvest and the wines reflect that.  The wines are in essence a picture of the year that was, and how fun is that?!

Turn on the irrigation and you’ve thrown it all away.  Turn on the reverse osmosis machine in the Fall and you’ve thrown it all away again.  We have a choice here:  we can go for consistency from year to year (think “Coca Cola”) or we can go for reflections of the year that was.  Obviously we choose option B!

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