Rain is in the picture for the weekend, but that is the first we’ve really seen since late June and early July—precisely 0.24 inches since June. That in itself doesn’t make a great weather vintage. However, we have more, with heat accumulations for 2012 in the warmer third of the pack for the last 16 years, ranking fifth and being similar to 2005, 2002, 2004 and 1998 as of our end of-September marker (we’ll give you an added update in another couple days)—i.e., vintage is not too warm, not too cool, just right!

Mother Nature isn’t totally beneficent this year, however. Crop set was affected by a wetter than normal June (when flowering normally occurs), with 2.89 inches of rain, compared to an average of 0.6 inches in recent years, excluding an equally wet and half-cropped 2010.

And then there was hail. Seems biblical and it WAS very interesting, considering we have NEVER been affected by hail before. (Was it something I did?!) You can literally see the swath the Memorial Day Friday storm cut across Ribbon Ridge, nailing Ridgecrest and Wind Ridge Vineyards (as well as other vineyards nearby). Blocks harvested so far from there have croploads ranging from 0.8 to 1.4 tons/acre (normal is 2-2.5 tons/acre). Stoller and Corral Creek Vineyards were not affected AT ALL, at most exhibiting minor desiccation from late ripening winds last week and no rainfall in September to charge the soil.

Rain IS predicted for this weekend, but the duration and amount is a bit vague. Most of the fruit is borderline ripe, with 30% having been harvested between Wednesday the 3rd and Tuesday and with 70% anticipated harvested by Saturday. With almost all our blocks being mature vines, minor rainfall is more welcome than a problem.

We have a great Harvest Intern Crew and will introduce you to them next Harvest Page.

Wish us luck as we try to choreograph the dance, with the tension of incrementally ripening grapes versus anticipated end of season rains.