You can feel the weather changing as we exit November. The dry offshore winds and the extreme diurnal shifts of the early part of the month are just a memory. In its place we've got weak low pressure systems in the Pacific, regular cloud cover overhead, and mornings damp enough that we have to check the rain gauge to know if it rained overnight or if that was just the fog. We haven't had a lot of rain yet -- just one storm the weekend before Thanksgiving that dropped about an inch and a half -- but you can feel it coming.
And we're in the brief, beautiful season where we've got the last of the fall colors on the vines and the first of the winter’s green grass coming up. Yesterday, that combined with ground fog lifting and rain-heavy clouds rolling in to make for stunning vistas everywhere you turned:
The vines themselves are lovely, but the view from the center of the vineyard, over our biodynamic plantings, was just as impressive in a different color palette:
And even the drive in was majestic. I felt like I was in a movie:
The rain we got was a perfect amount to get the cover crop germinated, without being so much to give us any worries about erosion. The shoots of grass soften the landscape, like an oil painting's subtle wash of Cadmium green under the autumn yellows and browns:
The earth, where you can see it, turns a lovely dark brown, as in this young Mourvedre block near the top of our tallest hill:
Harvest finished recently enough that there are still ample second crop clusters, particularly on Grenache, just waiting to provide tasty snacks for the sheep when they get let back into the vineyard:
The vines still have their leaves because we've only dropped below freezing a couple of times, and never gotten cold enough to really force them into dormancy. That means that you can identify the different blocks by their autumn tones, from the ocher of Roussanne in the foreground, to the brick red of Tannat in the middle, to the yellow of young Grenache and Syrah on the hillside right and the varied colors of older Muscardin and Bourboulenc vines to the left of the straw-covered farm road:
I'll leave you with probably my favorite photo of the morning's ramble, looking south down from our oldest Counoise block, with terraced Syrah vines on the right, and rows of Roussanne vines behind leading down to Las Tablas Creek and the fog-shrouded, oak-covered hillsides beyond.
We know we won't have long with this landscape. One hard freeze (possible as soon as this weekend) will put an end to the fall colors, while the green of winter takes over. And that is lovely too. But this transitional season, with its rich, warm colors and softer edges, feels fleeting and special. We'll enjoy it while we can.