It’s raining in Northern California. You may have read newspaper articles about the rain or even seen the occasional TV report. Those reports usually give an air of panic and desperation as wineries try and rush in grapes before they are ‘ruined’ by the rain. Hooey!
We have a rain event every year. Well almost every year. In 2006 there was no October rain, otherwise it’s an annual thing. We do try and bring in the thinned skinned grapes like Pinot Noir and Chardonnay before the rains come. The thick skinned grapes like Mourvedre (in the picture) and Cabernet Sauvignon though will go just fine through the rain.
The key is to let the grapes dry out after the rain and before you pick them. In the picture you can see Mourvedre in our front yard and there are little drops of water on the grapes. Those little drops add up and can dilute the wine, lowering alcohol by as much as 2-3%. That’s why it’s important to let the grapes get some sun and dry out.
We had been scheduled to pick the Haut Tubee vineyards tomorrow, including Red Hen, the Church, and Home vineyards but I just sent a message to Millie and we are postponing until Tuesday. We’ll still go on with Crimson Clover on Sunday as we have 2 days of sun coming and that will be enough to dry out the grapes.
Then what’s next? Do we panic and bring in all the Cabernet out there before it rains again? No, we go to New Orleans for a week to avoid all the panic going on. The Cabs will be ready after October 20th from our testing. Some vineyards will actually be ready around the 31st. That’s normal for us, the warm September helped get us back to normal, so it’s best to stay calm and wait it out.