How Dry I am....
While the old Zinfandel vineyard survived that dark period of our country’s history between 1920 and 1933 called Prohibition, I began to wonder if those same old vines would be singing that song popular during their teenage years, albeit for a different reason. As the first half of winter slunk along with scant rainfall, it appeared that we had suddenly been transported to a foreign place. My sister, Louise sent me a picture of the old Zinfandel vineyard after pruning with the caption ‘this is what farming in the desert must be like.’ There was no cover crop where typically the grass would be lush… Only bare earth and gnarled vines set below a pure blue sky. Fortunately, the storm door opened up at last and it looks as though we will receive enough water to ensure the old, unirrigated vines will have enough moisture to make it through another season.
I remember the 1976 and 1977 ‘drought’ seasons about as well as a teenager could. The crops were naturally small and everything ripened early and rapidly. I’ll never forget the intensity of flavor in the Zinfandel grapes, though. If this is what we look forward to in 2014, I say ’bring it on.’
There is a difference today in the majority of the vines existing in Sonoma County, though. In the last couple of decades, most vineyard plantings depend heavily on drip irrigation and utilize shallower–rooted, less vigorous rootstocks that may not deal well with an entirely dry root zone. Thoughtful use of the drip irrigation could mitigate low natural rainfall. However, there is talk of severely limiting water available to farmers. Wells along the Russian River plain (and even beyond) compete for underground flows that feed municipal water systems downstream. While it would not affect any vineyards I work with, it will be very interesting to see how it plays out this year from many perspectives.
Recent Releases & Opportunities
- 2012 Old & Mature Vine Zinfandel
- 2012 Shale Terrace Zinfandel
- 2013 Dry Rosé
- 2011 Scherrer Vineyard Chardonnay
- 2010 Scherrer Vineyard Cabernet Sauvignon
- 2010 King Vineyard Pinot Noir