Friday, May 31, 2013

Drought in the Rattlesnake Hills

A customer came through last weekend who was returning from Walla Walla. A tasting room employee there said they felt sorry for the Rattlesnake Hills because our grapes weren't going to be any good this year because of the drought. Drought? We get six inches annual rainfall – less than Phoenix, Arizona. We wouldn't recognize a drought even if it didn't rain for months. Saying there is a drought in the Rattlesnake Hills is like saying it rains in Seattle. Who starts these rumors anyway and why?
Hardly drought stressed. Note the large leaves and long node spacing.
All the grapes in the Rattlesnake Hills are irrigated either by wells or the Yakima Basin Water Project. The only drought that somewhat affects us is a drought in the Cascade Mountains and there isn't one this year. Snow pack is near normal and the reservoirs are full. Water is plentiful.
Even this old Cabernet vineyard planted in 1968 is alive and well.

 We had some temperatures over 90 a couple of weeks ago and we got two weeks of growth in two days. The grapes are in full bloom this week - a week early. It is starting out to be a banner year.

Last week we got an unprecedented two inches of rain, so we can skip an irrigation cycle or two. It looks like deficit irrigation will start early this year since we have so much cane growth already.
Don't feel sorry for us. My rain gauge says we've had 8.05 inches in the last 365 days. Mushrooms are growing in the sagebrush. With no spring frosts, we will have plenty of high quality grapes for the Walla Walla wineries.