Greg Schultz
January 24, 2017 | Greg Schultz

Weather or Not

In 2013, we were awaiting our first delivery of grapevines. We have never been weather geeks, but with 2,000 vines on order, we became very interested in temperature patterns and rainfall amounts. Having lived on the Gulf Coast for 30 years, we were very familiar with what too MUCH rain looks like, but had no idea what too LITTLE looks like. Turns out 2013 was even drier than normal (driest ever, in fact) with about 12 inches of rain falling in southern Oregon for the entire year. We were in a drought! 

2016 was a more normal weather year with talk about La Niña floating around for 2017. What's that? La Niña means there is a good chance that we will be colder and wetter based on what's going on in the Pacific. Rains started in October causing us to postpone a road building project until springtime. There have been some rain-free periods though when we could get out on the farm and get some needed work done. We have removed some fences in preparation for a new vineyard block (future) and have removed blackberries from the creek side and pasture. With Greg cutting and Debbie raking and burning we have made good progress on the blackberries. Good things to do while the vines are dormant.

Greg attacking a mountain of blackberries in the pasture


The real excitement weather-wise has been in the past 4 weeks. Starting in mid-December, one Pacific storm after another has rolled in. 5 inches of rain fell in the last half of December. On January 2nd and 3rd, we received 13 inches of snow. This was wet, heavy snow, the kind that brings down trees and power lines. We were without power, heat, and water for 2 1/2 days with temperatures dropping as low as 11º F one night. When the power was restored on the third day, I can't begin to describe how thankful we were. More fun to come though...

4 inches of rain on 12/14/16 prompted Debbie to remove debris from our creek

Late afternoon view of the vineyard as the snow started piling up

With a foot of snow in the valleys and more on the mountains, heavy rains returned. In the past 2 weeks, 11 more inches of rain have fallen, washing the snow away as well as some roads and hillsides. So much gravel came down our roadside, that our drainage line which runs under the vineyard plugged and blew out. A geyser is not something you expect to see in a vineyard. Tom Fay from Fay Irrigation has come out to look at it, but we can't fix anything until the water flow subsides. So in the meantime we have a new stream running through the vineyard and across our driveway.

Several days after the blowout water still is boiling up in the vineyard

Looking Forward

We have not yet started our pruning but many local vineyards have. For planting this summer, we are in discussions with NovaVine in Santa Rosa regarding rootstock and plant availability. We are working on a long-term plan that includes 1,000 Cabernet Franc vines this year. The weather has not seemed to phase our chickens as in the last few weeks the hens have started laying. And the 2016 wines are all progressing as expected in the winery. One day closer to our first estate wine!

The hens have started laying these beautiful colored eggs


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