After a glorious weekend of Bay Area sports, the San Francisco Giants winning the pennant and headed to the World Series and the Oakland Raiders walloping their division rivals the Denver Broncos – to wake up to Tom Wark heralding this El Nino style rain as game ending and Jim Barbour encouraging all of you to hop in the bath tub and pretend to be a grapevine was a dismal start to the day. Thanks Wine Business Daily News.
Tom noted this morning that, “No, “Napa Valley” and “Sonoma County” and the “North Coast” can not together nor separately appropriately be described as singular weather zones.”
And just as the microclimates in the Valleys experience the good weather with alternating variances of “good” weather affecting the various varietals planted there so does the “bad” weather. You betcha’ driving Up Valley along Highway 29 would have prompted me to post “It’s OVER” on the Thomson Vineyards Blog today as well.
Speaking of weather zones, the fruit along Highway 29 is of North South row orientation, it’s window dressing so the tourists have something pretty to look at. Given the row orientation, much of the fruit Up Valley was obliterated by the heat wave and farmers up that way were making and eating Cabernet pie. The sunburn compromised the berry skins, which in layman’s terms broke down its immune system and made it more difficult for the berries to survive a storm like what just passed through – think of it as a simple cold turning into a raging monster. Finally, given its geographic area in a pocket of the Napa Valley that is flanked with mountain hillside vineyards famous for producing pricey fruit – The Highway 29 funnel lends itself to wind pushing heavy down pours through a virtual half-pipe where the best and the worst conditions can be found on any given day. So yes, I’m sure Tom was devastated by what he saw. It makes sense for where he was. I appreciate his condolences that, “The 2010 vintage will go down as a very tough year or growers.” It’s true. Very true.
Meanwhile Jim’s busy hanging out in his bath tub – or at least encouraging the winemakers to do so which gives me a chance to dispel this 7th grade science experiment and talk about soils. Easily, hands down, the most aspiring viticulturists failed out of this major at Cal Poly known in the catalogue as “Soil Science” so I’m not going to pretend to impress you with soil compositions and make up and arguments about structure, formation, classification and mapping. But, I will point out that not all soils are created equal. A rocky soil, composed of volcanic rock, gravel, sand, and silt will act as the drain to Jim’s bathtub experiment and drain the water right out of his proof that, “Harvest is Over.”
It’s not how much it rains, it’s what happens after…Know your vineyard, know your site…And it Ain’t Over Till It’s Over.
At 1,500 feet above sea level, with alluvial, rocky soil that goes down for miles I’m betting that our mountain Merlot will make it to be harvested sometime in November…a ways off, I agree. But its individual weather zone coupled with soil likely to drain right out gives it a leg up on the competition. I’m enjoying waiting for it. All things come to those who wait, right?
So…while I’m waiting, I’m busy blogging about pairing wine with the Top 3 ranked BCS football teams, searching for ski leases on the North Shore of Tahoe to go with my season pass and catching up with my DVR. I’m not complaining!
That’s fine, you pessimistic Grumpy Old Men should keep doing what you’re doing. Tom you keep taking those Sunday drives Up Valley and Jim I’d like to see you in a blue Snuggie complete with hip flask holster. I think the Napa Vit Fair would be a great place to wear a get up like that. I’ll look for you. I’ll be one of the Next Generation you Old Guys complain about in the industry with our glass half full rosy glasses, nontraditional and unconventional viticulture/winemaking ideas and rogue underground marketing strategies! Everybody’s got their place. Tom’s is on Highway 29, Jim’s is in the bathtub:)