It's beautiful out here this weekend. Last weekend's rain has passed through, and a week of sunny weather has meant that the cover crop and the natural grasses have exploded out of the ground. I can't ever remember as fast a transformation in the vineyard landscape from fall brown to winter green. I took the chance to get out yesterday afternoon and capture some of the rich colors produced by the afternoon sun, the unpruned brown vines, and the vibrant yellow-green of the new growth. These are some of my favorites. First, to get a sense of the transformation, compare the photo below to the photos taken two and four weeks ago that I posted late last month:
The rolling contours of the vineyard are striking at almost any time of the year. I particularly like them at this time, with the vines still unpruned and the new growth so bright. This is Roussanne rolling up what we call the "new hill" because it was planted in 1997 rather than 1994.
Getting down closer to the ground shows the lines from the seeding. The tall grasses are oats, which will eventually produce a lot of biomass for the vineyard and grow tall to provide a scaffolding for the vetch that we use to hold the soil in place.
As the sun was setting, I climbed up what we call Mount Mourvedre (the hill behind the winery) and looked south toward the New Hill. The distance flattens the perspective and turns the vineyard rows into patterns, while the setting sun (it was halfway below the horizon when this was taken) turns the vines' shoots red:
Finally, on the way back to the winery, I was struck by this shot, with the light of the sun shining through the vineyard and the olive trees that line the road (which, incidentally, we'll be picking this week, and processing here for the first time). It's worth doing with all these images, but particularly the one below: click on it to get the larger version.