This spring continues to be benign. After our scare in early April, we've had three weeks of beautiful weather, with lows between 36° and 45°, and highs between 57° and 82°. The average low has been 39° and the average high 70°: really perfect spring weather. We've accumulated 207 growing degree days so far, just above our 20-year average of 182, but well below the high of 274, set in 2013.
We haven't gotten much in the way of additional rain. Despite some promising forecasts for much of last week, we received measurable precipitation only once, on Saturday, and then only 0.02". But that's OK; rain at this time of year, unless it's significant enough to penetrate deep into the soil, is as much a nuisance as it is a benefit, since it encourages the regrowth of the cover crop that we're spending much of our time trying to bring under control.
The net result has been a beautifully even push from the grapevines of all different varieties. I was here late in the day yesterday, and got out to take some photos in the late-afternoon light. These are some of my favorites. First, a photo of solar power, direct and indirect: a dry-farmed Mourvedre vine, with the solar panels we use to power the winery in the background:
Not all our varieties are out equally; Grenache (below, top), which is both first to sprout and one of the grapes that makes the most canopy is out quite a bit further than Mourvedre (below, bottom):
We have flower clusters, and though I wasn't able to find any actual flowering yet, it's surely going to be underway soon. You can see a similar difference in the size and advancement of the clusters between Grenache (below, top) and Mourvedre (below, bottom). The background for the Mourvedre cluster is one of the solar panels, if you're wondering why it's gray:
The cover crop is indeed growing again, thanks to the inch of rain we received on April 7th. This will mean a second pass through much of the vineyard, at least the parts that we'd mowed rather than disked or spaded:
Still, this is one of my favorite times of year. We're largely past the risk of serious frost, particularly since our 10-day forecast doesn't show anything threatening. It's not hot yet. The still-green grasses on the hillsides give an overall air of softness that we won't have in a month, and that greenish brown is set against the yellow-green of the newly-leafed out grapevines and oak trees. Knowing that we're off to an ideal start to the growing season makes it all the sweeter.
I'll leave you with one last of my favorite photos, from our Scruffy Hill block, which gives you a sense of the landscape: vineyard in front, oak-studded hillsides in the background rising in increasingly rugged folds toward the south and west. Cheers to spring, and to the incipient 2015 vintage.