A mild winter and brutal spring for Clos de la Tech's vineyards
With winegrowing being both an art and a science we are ever tested by Mother Nature. Sometimes, there are events over which we have no control – this spring was a perfect example. The winter was warm causing everything to wake up early. And, initially, the forecast leading up to bloom was favorable. However, when the flowers opened up to pollinate, a 6-week cold front ensued, making pollination difficult to impossible.
When we first experienced a weather pattern like this, which destroyed our 2005 harvest, TJ went on an educational journey to learn how to prevent this from happening in the future – he discovered the “greenhouse.” This involves stretching plastic wrap along both sides of the row of vines. The first real test for this technique was in 2011, the infamous year of cold/wet bloom-time weather. Rows treated with plastic wrap were protected from the hostile weather, yielding twice as many berries per cluster as those vines we had left unwrapped.
This year, we had deployed the “greenhouse” technique again to our experimental blocks. Since we have been experimenting with this for several growing seasons, we are getting pretty good at it. But, seeing as Mother Nature has given us such great vintages since 2012 we have not been tested and we are nervous.
We will be very curious to see how well it works this year, but we know that we have already lost a significant percentage of this year’s crop in the “control” blocks, as have neighboring vineyards in the Santa Cruz Mountains, as well as the coastal vineyards of Sonoma. While yield will be down (remember, our normal yield has been less than 1 ton per acre, so we are estimating 0.25 - 0.50 tons per acre), this will result in more concentrated fruit. Depending upon good weather between now and harvest, at least we know that our quality will improve. Ahhh, Mother Nature’s tradeoffs…