After a record setting wet January that dropped more than 25 inches of rain on our Howell Mountain vineyards, the Northern California drought is officially over. According to the US Drought Monitor, the Bay Area is now in a drought-free zone for the first time since 2012. This brings a welcomed sigh of relief to California’s Agriculture industries. However, the photo above of a Napa Valley floor vineyard with “wet feet” bodes the question…. how is all this flooding affecting our grapevines?
The short answer is, it’s really not. With the vines in a dormant state and our soils with relatively good drainage, the standing water does not directly impact vine health. There are other indirect consequences, though. The series of wet days can delay field work and crews can get behind in their pruning schedules. The heavy rains can cause erosion and landslides in hillside vineyards. And, the high winds have caused a lot of extra clean-up work with down trees.
For the longer answer… if heavy rains continue to saturate vineyards as we approach spring and bud break, then root health becomes a concern. But for now, we stand grateful for the wet winter and look forward to full reservoirs and well saturated soil for the 2017 growing season.