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Photo Essay - Autumn in the Vineyards

November is a beautiful time of year in Paso Robles wine country.  The grapevines erupt into fall colors, each variety different in its timing and its shade.  We've usually received our first rainfall, which means that the cover crops start to grow and the hillsides slowly turn from brown back to green.  And the low sun angle illuminates everything in a warm glow. 

For whatever reason, this year has been particularly beautiful.  I thought I'd share a half-dozen or so photos that I've taken in the past week.  First, a photo looking north through the center of the vineyard that highlights the different vineyard blocks.  Immediately in the foreground is Grenache Blanc, still yellow-green.  The red-brown head-pruned vines are Tannat, with fruit trees in the green patch behind that.  On the right side of the center road is Grenache (facing west) and to the left of the road is Counoise.  Mourvedre is to the right of the Grenache, across the winding track.


The foliage bursts into riots of color near sunset.  The photo below is looking in the opposite direction, up at the hill from which the previous photo was taken.  Tannat is in the foreground, with Grenache Blanc to the left and Syrah to the right on the steep, north-facing hill behind:


Syrah is consistently the most colorful of the foliage.  A Syrah cane reaches up, against the backdrop of the Santa Lucia Mountains:


Not everything is reds and oranges, but the gentler yellows and greens of grapes like Roussanne (below) still highlight the contours of the terrain:


Not everything is losing its green in favor of brighter colors.  The cover crop, particularly in areas not shaded by vine canopy, is starting to fill out lush and green.  With nearly 5 inches of rain so far this season (about 150% of normal for this time of year) it's good to have the cover crop holding down erosion:


And as the sun dips out of sight, the hillsides to the west (in this case, the lusher Syrah in front and the sparser Mourvedre behind) look like they're on fire.


We know that these colors won't last much longer; the first hard freeze and everything turns brown.  But if you're scheduled to come out in the next week or two, you're in for a treat.