Weather Underground

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Well, more like their scent. And thankfully not everywhere I look/smell around because that would just be wrong. Lilacs in February? I found this little lovely in in Pier Park, right next to where we live, one of two small bushes nestled under the towering firs that have decided: it’s time. You can’t blame them — it’s been unseasonably warm. In reality, though, they are more an early May/Mother’s Day bloom out this way, and if all the bushes happened to be flowering, that would be trouble: too warm.

We want, no, make that NEED, our vineyard to slumber for another few months, so that a late season frost doesn’t cause harm if it awakens too early. Although what can you do? Even though our land is 90 miles away in a cooler, drier climate, 90 miles really isn’t that far; it’s almost 60 degrees F here in Portland today, and in the low 50s right now in The Dalles. As long as the nights stay cool, though, we’re good, and Weather Underground is showing some rather chilly nights during this period of warmth. If we were making maple syrup (which we can’t out here since sugar maples are not to be found — dang it!) we’d love this weather. But it puts me a little on edge vineyard-wise. It’s ridiculous, isn’t it, how something so lovely and scented as a lilac can make one worry?

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Such a late harvest has us, like many, walking the line: on the one side we’re hoping this new abundance of mid-October’s above average temperatures will give us just what we need; on the other side, it won’t. I have no idea how many times Scott may check the weather during the day, my guess is many. I don’t check, because sometimes, I can’t handle what I’m going to hear.

Like last night, before going to bed, we listened to old Portland weatherman Matt Zafino give us his interpretation of the weather. Chance of frost in The Dalles. Sh*t. “If it’s going to be that cold in town,” Scott said, “It’s going to be colder out on our hill.” Well, that was enough to worry me, and as much as I do know worry is a waste of time and energy, it made for some hard sleeping. Scott didn’t seem so worried, his snores moving me from bed to couch so I could toss and turn out there.

We’re supposed to start harvest this weekend. Checking Weather Underground this AM, it doesn’t appear we got the cold Matt Zafino told us about, but I’m sure Scott’ll check some of the surrounding orchard stations to verify. We’ve yet to have a crop where we look at each other and say, “What are we going to do with this?” Thankfully we’ve walked the line with success for all our vintages to date. The specificity of grape character intact, and sugars and acids in balance, we have what the year gave us, and we’ve been extremely pleased with the results. Sanity-wise, that’s a whole different story.

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A couple of weeks ago Scott bluntly said, “We need 40 days of good weather.” What he was referring to is what is alarming the bejeezus out of the industry at the moment: will this year’s crop have enough time to ripen? For us, we’re a good 3 weeks behind, due to the long, chilly Spring and lackluster months of Summer. And out at the farm on Friday Scott didn’t seem very upbeat about what he was seeing; things were still spotty. Although this coming week’s forecast from Weather Underground definitely gives this household a boost.

Go, little grapes, GO!