I love this portable wind machine that showed up in the Opus One vineyard last week; the fan one day, the propane tank the next. The vast majority of vineyards around the Napa Valley have been pruned now and vineyard-vistas are greening up as leaves and shoots (white varietals) are appearing atop vines as a fuzzy, pale green haze.
The Opus One vineyard is, of course, Cabernet sauvignon - an expensive crop that needs to be protected from frost. With the possible threat of frosty spring mornings just around the corner, vineyard managers up and down the valley are making sure that frost protection means are in place, and in working order. Vineyard managers that employ overhead sprinklers for frost protection have been checking that their sprinkler systems will indeed sprinkle when called upon to do so, (as evidenced by the number of vineyards that have been getting a good sprinkler-dousing the past couple of weeks).
I finished pruning the Syrah today, making my spur and cane selections that is, I haven't tied them all down yet. The Syrah vines are very enthused which makes tying the canes down difficult. It also means that those little buds will be susceptible to frost damage if we have a chilly morning. My fingers are crossed because I don't have a portable wind machine.
On another note, this past Wednesday's Napa Valley Register reported that more than 400 concerned citizens had showed up at a joint meeting of the Napa City Board of Supervisors and the Napa County Planning Commission (on Tuesday 10th March). What are they concerned about? Vintners, growers and average folk are concerned about the unfettered growth of wineries within the agricultural preserve, wineries that "are becoming glitzy event centers that overshadow agriculture, generate too much traffic and use too much groundwater." A group of growers and vintners, notably Andy Beckstoffer and Dennis Groth, submitted a joint letter (which I'm sure got a frosty reception from the supervisors), asking the county to enforce regulations set in place under the 1990 Winery Definition Ordinance. Problem is, the county repeatedly grants variances to new wineries to get around the laws the county itself instituted to protect the agricultural preserve. It's a highly contentious issue and I'm sure that a huge flap is fermenting. Stay tuned.