The iconic images of full, lush green vines weighted with beautiful clusters of grapes during the summer and rich burgundy, gold and auburn leaves during the Fall, illustrate the vibrant life cycle of a vineyard. Not to be forgotten, the bare, cold winter season represents an important part of that cycle as well. From a winemaking perspective, each step in the process plays a vital role to the development of grapes.
Currently, our vineyards are going through their crucial dormant stage. Dormancy is an important period in any organism’s life cycle. This stage occurs after the vines have experienced adverse conditions. For Lodi, that means freezing temperatures that typically occur in January, and this year, December. Growth and development are temporarily stopped, helping an organism to conserve energy.
With the changing climate and abrupt cease of rainfall during the early winter season, many of our Tasting Room visitors have asked how the lack of moisture will affect our vineyards. During this dry spell, our vineyard team has been closely monitoring the water content of the soil. Special devices are used to measure the depth of soil saturation from previous rainfall in each of our vineyards, up to four feet deep. In many local vineyards, we still have between 2-3 feet of saturation below the top layer. In our favor is a vineyards ability to absorb and store energy and nutrients during its more vibrant life cycle allowing the vine to remain healthy during a harsh or moisture lacking winter. Although 2-3 feet depth of soil saturation sounds like an adequate amount of moisture to nourish our vines, without more rain in the foreseeable future, it is likely that light irrigation will begin to mimic what is needed.
Pruning is another important part of our vineyard care this time of year. There is a very strategic and systematic approach involved. Clipping is intended to help balance the vine. Stronger shoots, or spurs, are left alone while others are trimmed to control crop yield for the coming season. Our vineyard team is very careful about the timing of certain vineyards as some varietals are more susceptible to disease. After all, pruning is essentially creating an open wound on the vine, exposing it to harsh elements.
Clearly, California needs the rainy season to descend upon us! But rest assured we will do our best in the vineyard and in the cellar to keep the grapes and wines as great as they’ve always been despite the dry spell!