First of all, thank you for being patient! It has been awhile since I last blogged as last year was full of interesting twists and turns with a whole new set of challenges. The catastrophic fires in Sonoma County turned lives upside down, and then the fires in SoCal coupled with the terrible mud slides in Montecito just added to a feeling of helplessness about things you have no control over. Too many friends lost their homes and in the blink of an eye, their lives changed forever. We were lucky…our house is intact, but it was a most surreal experience to be packing your cars with what you thought to be most important in case you had to evacuate. With the smoke thick in the air, smarting our eyes, Kirsten and I went through every room to determine what we needed to take with us. If nothing else, that experience made us aware of what we were lacking for emergencies like this and so we have made those changes and updates – generator, check…chainsaw, check!

After much reflection, I do find myself with a child-like optimism ready to move forward! It’s a new growing season and as of this writing, we are half way through the pruning process. We are pruning a little earlier than last year partly due to the unseasonably warm weather we have been experiencing which moves the vines into fruit production. There are also other considerations, such as the availability of labor, which had some effect on us, and also vine health issues. A little bit about pruning…First of all, good fruit is only produced on shoots from new canes which is why this is an annual event. Also, the pruning of grape vines must happen while they are dormant, but can be done anytime between leaf drop in the fall and bud break in the spring, weather permitting.  Every farmer has his or her time frame preference in mind, but sometimes external influences serve to make the decision for you!

Every vineyard is different, with its own micro climate, soils and individual characteristics which will help determine the rate at which the vines will progress. The pruning of a grape vine takes a real skill set with a good eye for perfection. It is remarkable to see the speed with which these seasoned vineyard workers go through row after row, pruning deftly and to perfection.  For me, pruning signals renewal of life in the vineyard and a preparation for the growing season ahead.

Although the rain has been lacking so far in the new year, the ground is still damp and we are hoping for more rain in the very near future. We are just taking it a day at a time and trying to enjoy the spring-like weather with less stress!