We're thrilled with the winter that we've received so far. We're near 35 inches of rain since October, which is the most we've received in four years. We've had periods of extended cold, which got the vineyard fully dormant. For now, everything is still quiet in the vineyard, but we're turning our attention to frost mitigation, which will (quite literally) be keeping winemaker Neil Collins up at night for the next two months.
We got out into the vineyard a little last week, both to document the amazingly lush cover crop and to get some photos of Las Tablas Creek, which didn't run at all last winter. None of us has ever seen a cover crop so thick and green, a testament both to the great rain and to the work that we've been doing with compost and fertilization over the past few winters.
In places, the grasses are so high that you have to look closely to even see the vines. We'll be getting into the vineyard in the next few weeks to start with mowing and disking; it's been too wet until the last week or two to get tractors in. Can you find the vines below?
We're looking forward to what locals are predicting will be one of the best wildflower seasons in memory. So far, lupines line the roads and mustard is starting to sprout between the rows:
It's a little early for them, but we are seeing some of the first California poppies of the year:
The creek has been running merrily since January, and although its level has gone down a little we still see water seeping out of low-lying areas in the vineyard, so the ground remains saturated in lots of places.
You can hear the creek running from the winery, which makes for a fun contrast to the beautiful, warm weather we've been having for the last week and which we're scheduled to have next week as well. Another view:
Lake Nacimiento, into which Las Tablas Creek drains, is still rising, and is up to 62% of capacity. The surface level of the lake has risen more than 70 feet since October.
In the vineyard, we're just finishing pruning our last few blocks. In the below photo you can see vineyard canes piled in the middle of the rows ready for collection.
For those of you who have been doing rain dances, thank you. If you could now switch to "no frost" dances, that would be appreciated as well.