I uploaded a picture taken yesterday showing the new leafs sprouting in detail. Amazingly, the future grape cluster is already visible. Everything was already formed in the buds during last season. This also explains why pruning is by far the most important vineyard management activity, as the amount of grape clusters (and yield) for the new season are limited by the number of buds left on the vine.
We hired an exterminator to help reduce the gopher population in our vineyard. Gophers dig large underground tunnel systems and love to feed off the vine roots. Left unbounded, they can cause tremendous damage to a vineyard. Natural enemies, like our local owls and coyotes, could not keep the gopher population limited. Time for us to help nature a bit. Within two days after setting traps, we have caught about 20 gophers. Population can get as high as 60 gophers per acre, so we are not done yet.
This weekend we saw the first signs of the vineyard springing back to life, with some vines already showing their first leaf. In the wine industry this is called "bud break", and it usually occurs around St. Patrick's day (March 17), depending on varietal and location of the vineyard. Red varietals, like our Cabernet Sauvignon, usually bud out later than whites. Driving on Rancho California, the main Temecula wine country access road, you can see the Chardonnay vineyards coloring green already.
Soon the emergence of the first hesitant sprouts will be followed by vigorous growth, up to one inch per day.
At this moment it is still hard to imagine, but harvest is only 6 months away!
The drip irrigation checked out OK. With rains coming in this week, we do not need it for a while.
Riverside county introduced a draft plan, "Wine Country 2020", that has the ambition of more than doubling the number of wineries in Temecula.
Temecula currently has 35 established wineries, and there are 15 new wineries under development.
The Riverside planning department tries to find a delicate balance between interests, by designating areas for wineries, residential, and equestrian (horse ranch) use. While most approve of plans that increase prominence of Temecula as a wine region, there is growing concern about the impact of more visitors coming to the area (not in my backyard). Example of conflicting interests: traffic and noise from open air events at wineries, are concerns voiced by neighboring residents. However, weddings and concerts are a required source of additional income for most wineries.
Regulations applicable to the Citrus/Vineyard zone, like minimal acreage for establishing a winery or hotel, will also apply to the newly planned Winery/Hospitality district. Small size "garage wineries" (less than 10 acres) are not allowed under the new plans, but imo could positively contribute to the diversity and intimate atmosphere that stands for Temecula as a wine region.
With so many different interests at stake, there will be more public discussion needed. Expectation is that it will take at least a year before the new plans will be in effect.
Link for more information: wine country community plan
Spent most of today removing rocks from the vineyard, as rocks and mowing don't go well together. Not done yet... have left some for next week. Any volunteers?
The drip irrigation has survived the winter and works pretty good at the front side of the property. The higher part at the back side of the vineyard does not get enough water pressure. Will need professional help to get this going.
The vineyard was pruned last week. Everything looks nice and cleaned up now. Believe it or not, there is a chance of freezing temperatures even here in Southern California! The vines were cut back to 2 buds per spur, leaving one "backup spur" in case of frost damage. The coming weeks we will check the drip irrigation system for damage, as coyotes tend to chew on the hoses. We're getting the vineyard ready for the new season.
Reinier van der Lee,