We've been getting lots of small rainstorms over the last month. It's a lot better than what we saw in January, so I'm not really complaining, but we're still missing that one big five-inch dousing that will really replenish the reservoirs and get the creeks flowing again. Tablas Creek, even after the roughly six inches of rain in February, is still dry. We have gotten over an inch of rain today, but at about 14 inches for the year, we're still only halfway to our normal totals and time is running out.
Still, the pattern of the rainfall (lots of days of light to moderate rain, and relatively warm interludes) has resulted in one of our lushest, greenest surface crops in years, and what promises to be a glorious wildflower season. I took advantage of a break in the precipitation late last week to walk around the vineyard and see how things looked. The photos below are a selection of the best ones; as usual, I've posted the complete Signs of Spring photo album on Tablas Creek's Facebook page.
First, a look at the cover crop, which we seed most winters between the rows. It is a mix of sweet peas, oats, vetch and clover. Some years it barely grows six inches; this year it's eighteen inches in spots.
A shot through our Roussanne block, looking west, shows just how green the cover crop is, and how tall it has gotten:
The first California poppy of the season:
I liked this next shot because it showed the seeded cover crop intermingled with the native flowers, including a pretty purple one which we saw more prominently this year than I can ever remember. More photos of this flower will follow.
As promised, the blanket of purple flowers in a valley of head-pruned vines, with rows of Syrah (and seeded cover crop) behind:
And, because I couldn't resist one more shot of the purple flowers, this one looking west toward our newly-planted section:
As I was walking through the vineyard, I saw this mustard flower with a ladybug on it, straight out of organic vineyard central casting:
This last shot shows two rows of Syrah: one seeded with the cover crop (on the left) and the other left to naturally self-seed. We could have probably gotten away with leaving more of the vineyard to self-seed this year, as it was such a good growing year for surface plants, but you never know... and we were disappointed with the self-seeding take in the winter of '07-'08.
As always, you can click on any of the above images for full-size shots.