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Bill Dyer
August 24, 2014 | Bill Dyer

2014 Season so Far

In our 40 years in Napa Valley we had never seen the hills brown or Diamond Creek, the creek that drains our watershed, dry in January- but that was the case just before the season began.   We had plans in place to reduce the crop at Dyer Vineyard just to keep the vines alive when 20+ inches of rain in February and March greened up the hillsides and brought up the mustard.  With the soils saturated at just the right moment, we had a good bloom and set, so much so there was a lot of shoot and cluster thinning required to keep the crop size in balance.  





Though the rainfall was still only around 40% of normal, the vines reached down for available soil moisture, and as we approach the end of August, they don’t look too thirsty in spite of the drought conditions.  So far we have given them minimal irrigation—less than 10 gallons per vine so far, which is “almost” dry farming.   Way back when we planted the vineyard, we selected a rootstock  (1103P) that goes deep and that decision stood us in good stead this season. There have been a few hot days, but these were mostly in the early and mid season, when the berries are small and green. They are not so susceptible to heat damage at that stage. We run a few degrees cooler up here on the hillside than on the valley floor. Our maximum temperature so far has been 102 degrees. There have been lots of foggy mornings in mid and late August. One day last week the sun never came out at all. One model for climate change is that a warming ocean will bring more fog to our coastal valleys. That may sound counter-intuitive (more on that in a future post) but certainly is what we’ve seen in the last couple of years. While predictions for an early harvest seemed verified by start up dates for sparkling wine and Sauvignon Blanc, we may be closer to normal for hillside Napa Valley Cabernet Sauvignon. I believe slower ripening can make for more intense flavors. I am glad to see the forecast continuing to call for foggy mornings and mild afternoons.


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