“Vintage 2018” – Wet or Dry Year?

So far this year’s water year (October 1, 2017 through September 31, 2018), We have received 15.36 inches of rain. Our average is 23.77 inches which leaves 8.41 inches for a normal water year. This week’s forecast is for an impressive 3 to 4 inches of rain and could get us a bit closer to our yearly target.

The big question is: Will we receive enough precipitation for “Vintage 2018? 

In our opinion its seems like the answer may be yes. If there was an equationto see how much more rain we needed for the rest of the year it would be based on things like snowpack, unused water runoff during the larger storms, how much rain soaked into the ground, Local Lake levels (to date Lake Sonoma is at 83.8% and Lake Mendocino is at 88.77%) and of course the amount of precipitation recorded.

One of the other parts of the equation would have to be timing of our rain events. The heavy late rains we are receiving and predicted could help in water conservation throughout the Spring. Going into the dryer growing season with saturated soils would enable many vineyards to hold off their first irrigation later than normal. Also having a couple inches every other week allows the water to penetrate the soil where it will be stored in aquafers and not just runoff into the bay. So far this looks like what may be the case for “Vintage 2018”.
Heavy rains in March and April are not uncommon. For most of us we would like to see that for March, but April could be an issue. Even though the extra precipitation would seem helpful in one way it could be a problem in another.
Grapevines are susceptible to powdery mildew. Normally at two inches of growth (early April) we will start our fungicide program. With the added moisture in the ground it may be hard to get tractors in the field, leaving some vineyards unprotected.  It is also important for us to mow between the vines to allow the freezing air to drop to the floor of the vineyard and not within the fruiting zone during a frost event. Most heavy rain events are followed by frost in March and early April.
The old saying “A farmer is never happy about the weather” is a true statement and so is “Timing is everything”. We could have both this year either way our water storage turns out to be “Only time will tell”.

Quote of the week-
“Wine a little, it’ll make you feel better…”
Author Unknown

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