And Then The Rains Came . . .
You can’t make great wine without great grapes. That is the reason Dimitri Tchelistcheff, our winemaker, and I make frequent trips to our vineyards. We can’t neglect the vines even in the dormant season. So, how are we coping with the rains, with double the normal rainfall?
First off, we do not disc our vineyards so the natural ground cover protects our hillside vineyards against erosion. Surrounding our vineyards we have a network of pipes that conduct the water into streams; in that respect, we were well prepared for El Nino rains. Fortunately, rains during the dormant season don’t have much affect on the vines.
However, we are counting on this "El Nino" rain pattern stopping in April, or else, we face the ever present danger of powdery mildew, which flourishes on a moist vine. Fortunately, we have never experienced any of the nasty taste of powdery mildew in our wine, but only because of our constant vigilance.
We protect against powdery mildew by use of ordinary powder sulfur which we dust on the vines. Without sulfur, a naturally occurring element, you wouldn’t have wine. Not only is sulfur indispensible in the vineyards, but also in winemaking to keep the wine from turning to vinegar. That is the reason for all the little sulfur dioxide warning labels on wine bottles.
So today’s problem is that we cannot get our tractor into the vineyard to spray the powder sulphur to prevent the powdery mildew. Hopefully the rains will be tapering off soon. As you can see, the concerns of a grape farmer don’t ever stop.