Old Vine Zinfandel in drought Cabernet Sauvignon waiting for rain
Void of natural cover crop 1/17/14 Hard barren exposed soil 1/17/14
Dateline: January 17, 2014
A New Vintage Year Presents Challenges At The Onset
Time passes by like a blink of an eye and here we are at the beginning of the Vintage 2014 season. What do we see???? We see dry barren ground void of any natural cover crop as a result of the worst drought in California history since records have been maintained. We have had only 1.7 inches of rain since July 1, 2013. Reservoirs are dry, tributary creeks are dry, the Russian River flow is down 80% from normal, the Sierra snowpack is at 15% of normal, there is no predicted rain forecast for the balance of January and looking ahead to February and March doesn’t look promising. A stubborn high pressure system has locked onto the CA Coast pushing cold fronts to the North that normally yield heavy rainfall during our winter months. Growers are worried as concern for lack of water for frost protection and summer irrigation could be devastating. Wineries that are on municipal water systems could be severely rationed. As for us with 3 wells, we are not pumping air but I have no idea what the current level of water table might be. We have been lightly irrigating even though the vines are dormant. Our objective is to try to maintain surface feeder roots from drying out and possibly diminishing the capacity of the vine. In 1976 & 77 we had drought that yielded 15-17 inches of rain those calendar years which was about 5 inches less than necessary to produce a viable crop. Our production was down 70% those years from norm. It remains to be seen what will happen the balance of the season. My fears are one abnormal extreme might follow another i.e. we could see heavy rain during bloom to affect the berry set, rain during the summer to create mold and mildew or heavy rain during harvest to wash out the crop. Today our State Governor has declared California in a state of drought emergency so the ever optimistic start of a new year is somewhat in reserve until we see some dark heavy moisture filled clouds on the horizon. We need a rainman to seed the clouds however there are no clouds so here we sit patiently waiting for a breakthrough of this high pressure dominance.
Who’s That Pretty Girl In The Winery?
Happy to announce that Sierra Blair, my granddaughter, is working temporarily in the winery in many capacities. A graduate of UC Davis in Enology, she spent a 3 month internship with a Napa Valley winery during the 2013 harvest, is working for us in the interim and will soon be leaving for New Zealand in March 2014 to do a 2 month internship with a large winery. Sierra has already contributed greatly in the cellar with the racking and testing of the new wines, has been involved in upgrading our social media advertising, is working on establishing new wholesale customer accounts and working in the Tasting Room. She represents 3 generations now involved in Forchini Vineyards & Winery and I am a very fortunate indeed to have such talent and family support .
What Else Is New?
Last year was a heavy year in Project Developments with new road signage, stuccoing our Barrel Room, fermenting tank modifications, new filtration equipment implementation and additional fencing to contain our ever growing family of sheep and goats to increase sustainability in our vineyards. This year, no more projects please as we would like to devote more attention to marketing and administration even though we had an increase in sales in 2013. Soon to be released will be our graceful 2010 Pinot Noir which will have had 18 months aging in French oak barrels and over 12 months in the bottle before release. It exhibits delicious balanced flavors of cherry and plum and is truly elegant in the Burgundian fashion. We will produce this year about 70 cases of 2013 Paradiso Rosato wine for those customers who enjoy a fruity rose to go with outdoor summer dining. Our 2011 Chardonnay is near depleted with only 45 cases remaining so hurry if you like the crisp finish of lemon, pineapple and apricot with your grilled chicken. Eight new lambs are expected in February and our new 3 acre Pommard Pinot vineyard will be in its 2nd year of training. If you see a Redbone Coonhound running around with her nose to the ground don't call Animal Control cuz that's Millie (Mildred when naughty) our new dog we recently rescued before she was destined for the local animal shelter. She compliments Lizzie our new Chocolate Lab and the two dogs have a wonderful life running in the vineyards chasing rabbits and field vertebrae. They might also pester you if you brought a lunch to enjoy with outdoor tasting as their exuberance creates an unending appetite. Lizzie is 16 months old, Millie 18 month.
Lizzie at Left, Millie on the right
Please refer to our Special Event link on this website to keep abreast of all our activities. We hope to see you at the winery this year where you will enjoy a lovely spot to bring lunch and sample our wines outdoors while immersing yourselves in the serenity of our adjoining vineyards and rose gardens.
Wishing all our customers the best for 2014.
Jim Forchini, Editor
Five spring lambs were born this month. We were hoping for 8 but 5 out of 8 is not too bad (Non Ce" Mali) as .625 is a pretty good batting average in baseball. Note the short green cover crop that has started as a result of 8 inches of rain we received earlier this month. More rain is scheduled for next week so we are hoping it will be significant. Picture on right is the same view as the above left which shows the dry barren ground of 1/17/14 vrs. the emerging green cover crop of 2/21/14. This was a welcome site to see after a bone dry December & January.