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When it rains…

Fred Scherrer in conversation leaning against an old truck

…we pour a glass of wine in celebration (at least in the Winter). Though currently this may be a minority attitude considering the significantly wet weather and flooding experienced in this part of California over the past weeks. Fortunately, we were not affected by the flooding and only inconvenienced for a few days by closed roads here and there.

Why so happy about rain? I remember the extremely dry start to the 2013-2014 rainy season and by early February of 2014 where I promised myself that I would not ever complain about too much rain, regardless of how inconvenient it may be at the time. It is far better to have more than enough rainfall than not enough. The places in our area that flooded this year have done so in the past and will continue to in the future when conditions are similar. After a catastrophic flood in 1937 a plan was hatched in the 1940’s to help alleviate flooding in both the Ukiah Valley and the lower Russian River near Guerneville. Two lakes were created: Lake Mendocino on the Russian River near Ukiah (completed in 1959) and Lake Sonoma on Dry Creek (completed in 1984). While it still floods near Guerneville, I can only imagine how much more severe the flooding would have been without those dams in place. It doesn’t make it any easier though for those homes and businesses that have been impacted. It’s harder still for some that lost homes in the fires only now to have been hit again with flooding in their new location. Sometimes, when it rains it pours.

What does this high rainfall winter mean for the 2019 vintage? Vineyards on high vigor soils will probably be quite vigorous. Poorly drained soils may see some root die-off and less happy vines during the season. Other soils which are more meager and drain quite well should support very happy, healthy and nutritionally balanced grapevines that will make really nice wine. Regarding the sites I work with, I very much look forward to the upcoming vintage’s promise. Whenever we have had abundant early winter rainfall, the vines we work with have looked really healthy and balanced and the wines have turned out well.

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