Yesterday, we got about half an inch of rain. That may not seem like much, but it was most welcome, and along with a similar storm last weekend provided a marked change from the weeks of sun and warmth that preceded them. We're still securely in a serious drought (the two storms roughly doubled the amount of rain we've received this winter to 2.7 inches, but we're still at only about 20% of normal) but the last week has felt dramatically different: the soil is dark, not dusty; the sky has been stormy, even when it's not raining; and the color palette has shifted to a more wintery hue. There have even been a few sightings of green coming up on the sides of the roads. The next week is forecast to be more of the same, as we sit on the southern fringes of an "atmospheric river" of moisture aimed squarely at the Bay Area. They're looking at several inches of rain, and while we're hoping for some noteworthy showers to continue to chip away at our deficit, it's more likely that we'll continue to see clouds and occasional drizzle. At least it's not warmth and sun!
After the rain let up yesterday, I walked around the vineyard to get a sense of the changed landscape. The clouds were doing their theatrical best, still hanging heavily to the west, though shafts of sun poked through from time to time:
Each time a cloudburst would pass, the vineyard, still largely unpruned, would sparkle anew:
In those brief sunny interludes, the contrast between the honey-colored vines and the dark clouds was beautiful:
You can see the impact of our early-season watering. We've known that given the drought, we need to be getting water into the soil now if we hope to be able to keep the vines going through harvest. What's more, watering now and letting the water saturate down into the calcarous clay will allow us to not have to irrigate (or at least, not have to irrigate as much) in the summer, when we'd like the vines to be self-sufficient, and when you also lose more of the water you put on a vineyard to evaporation. It is that area, under the irrigation lines and among the grapevines, which is showing significant signs of green:
With the rain we've gotten recently the hillsides should (finally!) be in for a dramatic change in the next few weeks. It can't happen soon enough.