With two big fires burning to the north of us in Monterey County over the last few weeks, including the Indians Fire that has burned nearly 60,000 acres in three weeks and the Gallery Fire (just south of Big Sur) that has burned over 13,000 acres since Saturday, we look outside on strange yellow-gray skies and hazy sun. A photo from earlier this afternoon looks west toward the Santa Lucia Mountains:
The smoke is at its most dramatic in the evening, when sunsets have been brilliant orange. During the day, I keep looking outside waiting for the thunderstorm to hit (I'm betraying my East Coast origins here).
The smoke actually helps keep things a little cooler around here as the sun's intensity is reduced. After some very hot weather the second half of last week -- including three consecutive days Thursday 6/19-Saturday 6/21 where high temperatures topped 105 -- any relief is welcome. Even better, a front passed through and the normal pattern of onshore flow has reformed, meaning that we get a sea breeze in the afternoon and temperatures are usually comfortable by dinnertime. Lows last night actually dropped into the upper 30s.
The vineyard itself looks very healthy, with a good fruit set and no pressure from any pests except for ground squirrels. Two photos should give you a sense of what things look like out there. Typically, what we'd worry about at this stage is shatter (where a large percentage of flowers are unfertilized, leading to clusters with only a few scattered berries) which is most common in Grenache. No worries on that score. Two shots in the Grenache (left) and Grenache Blanc (right) show excellent fruit set:
And finally, a long view of the vineyard, looking from our "New Hill" section north across small plots of head-pruned Tannat and Picpoul to our main south-west and south-east facing slopes of Grenache. Note the strange (for Paso Robles) pale blue-grey sky: