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Thursday, October 15, 2009

Oh, oh, it's raining

The Growing Season in a Mediterranean Climate

The great thing about grape growing in CA is the dry weather during the growing season. But you can't always trust mother nature. Every year there seems to be something to annoy the farmers.

We had significant rain on October 13th in a relatively warm storm (think warm, moist rotting grapes). The next day was humid, but mostly dry. Here we are on the morning of the 15th and it's raining again.

Not all Grapes are Created Equal

Some grapes stand up better to dampness.
Cabernet is generally the last grape to come in, but also the skins and grape bunches dry out better.

The thinnest skinned grapes, Chardonnay and Pinot Noir, are the earliest to be picked so are less likely to get rained on. (Isn't Mother Nature smart). Cabernet is usually the last to be picked.
Luckily, it has thick skins and relatively loose bunches--so less damage from bad weather and easier to dry out.

Another grape still hanging out there that's near-and-dear to the hearts of Sonoma County is Zinfandel. Zin doesn't do so well with the wetness. It ripens unevenly and tends to rot. Even in good time you'll find a bit of rot on the bunches.

In 2006 when we had some September rains some Zin never quite got ripe.
This year I know of one winery known for Zin that will remain nameless here that is probably losing a large percentage of their Zinfandel (they have Zin and Cab still hanging). The only good news is that the crop is much larger than last year so the total tonnage may be about the same as last -- though still below average.

So, pray for low humidity's and wind to dry out the grapes still hanging.