Well, that was an interesting month! We are accustomed to great weather during the winegrape growing season in coastal Northern California, but every few years, we wake up to the realities of farming. This past month, after a very pleasant and dry April (with temperatures reaching 92 degrees Fahrenheit at one point!), we saw a return to the cold and wet conditions from a few months earlier.
Wet, windy and even wintry conditions were the theme throughout the month, and challenged our grapevines to hang on. It really did feel like February had returned!
Overall rainfall was nearly four inches during the month, winds regularly gusted to 15-20 mph, and the vines were forced to endure. Fortunately for us, most of the rain fell prior to bloom, with the fragile flowers tightly closed and shielded from the rain. After the worst of the storms passed, they opened up and were hopefully pollinated. We’ll know a lot more in a few weeks, as we watch the berries develop. Unfertilized flowers will not grow into full sized berries, giving us a final verdict on the bloom season.
Here are a few photos taken recently in one of our Pinot Noir blocks, the first showing a freshly blooming cluster, and the second showing one that started blooming five days earlier, during a rainy day. The brown caps became stuck to the flower, unable to fall off – We expect those berries will not develop into their full size.
A big challenge ahead of us, due to the late rains, is controlling vigor in the vineyard. We have already spent a lot of time thinning out unwanted shoots and tilling under the vines. This year will require many more passes through the vineyard, hedging, suckering, leaf pulling, and managing ground cover. The good news is that our groundwater resource is fully recharged! Average soil moisture is over 75% of complete saturation, almost unheard of for the first of June. We’ll likely be able to dry-farm our vineyard once again, until very close to harvest.
Wines for Spring and Summer
We are just now seeing the return of summer conditions, and we’re ready with our newest wines! A Russian River Valley Rosé can and Ron’s Chillable Red are in the fridge and ready for warm temperatures that are returning to Sonoma County.
The Russian River Valley Rosé canned in early April is a great candidate for the picnic cooler. Fermented from Pinot Noir grapes, it shows an abundance of strawberry and watermelon aromas, along with juicy, ripe berry flavors. Canned in a 375ml size, it’s the perfect size to share, and carries along the benefit of being considerably lighter than a glass bottled wine.
In fact, cans of wine are nearly 50% lighter than an equivalent size of wine in bottle, providing big savings on fuel and greenhouse gases in transit during and after production. If properly recycled, it’s a great way to enjoy your wine and feel good about this green choice
The other perfect wine for summer is our latest bottling, Ron’s Chillable Red, available exclusively at Total Wine & More store locations. A sweet red blend with a low alcohol content and engaging spritz, this wine showcases impressive aromas of red berry fruit and flavors to match. On a warm summer evening, it makes the perfect sundowner.
We had to enlist a new partner to bottle Ron’s Chillable Red, as bottling equipment common to the wine industry is not set up to manage spritzy wines. To imagine what would happen with standard bottling equipment, pour a room temperature soda into a glass and see the result. Lots of foaming! To keep this from happening, we used a “counter-pressure” filler, similar to that used in breweries, to fill the bottles. This kept the wine from foaming up long enough to seal the bottle with a specialized twist off capsule.