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Vineyard Spotlight: 2020 Vintage Notes

January/February 2020 Vineyard Report

Randy Czech, Gary Farrell Winery Vineyard Liaison

It’s cold out there! Well, it may not seem so cold if you’re from Minnesota, but for us Californians night-time lows in the low 30’s and upper 20’s qualifies. It hasn’t been an especially rainy winter so far, but the total for the year so far (a rain year runs from July 1st to the following June 30th) passed 12 inches in December. This amount of rain is enough to saturate the soils and transform the landscape of Sonoma County, inundating parts of the Russian River floodplain, expanding the reach of the Laguna de Santa Rosa, and even covering the feet of the lowest-lying vineyards. With a good measure of sunny days, the sprouting seedlings have sprung, and our vineyard floors, lawns and meadows have turned green.

Many Sonoma County growers have taken advantage of the sunny days to get started on pruning. Of all the jobs in a vineyard growing season, pruning takes the longest. Crews with a lot of acres to cover have to start early and work through all of the daylight hours to get the job done before the vines come out of their winter dormancy. Also, it’s not advisable to prune in the rain, as diseases like eutypa lata (a fungus that infects the interior wood of the vines) can take hold on fresh pruning cuts during rain events. If you’re not ahead of the game and it rains a lot in February and March, it can be a challenge to get your pruning done before budbreak.

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