The intrinsic quality of any given wine is explained by interacting factors which include, among the long list, weather of that particular vintage. So, it’s good to keep an eye on the charts and how they compare to previous years or long term averages to sort of stay in touch with what plants are experiencing.
It’s been a convention to start keeping track of the season in April each year, even though plants may “wake up” a bit earlier. Anyhow, April is history and it’s time to auscultate what was behind this kick off month.
Thank to the Southern Regional Climate Center (http://www.srcc.lsu.edu/) we have easy access to several weather stations across the State, including two that we follow, Dripping Springs, TX, and Brady, TX.
If you are around Austin, especially to its South West outskirts and have felt like this is a wetter year, you are right. By April 30th we had an 81% above average rainfall, counting 13.77 inches of rain compared to 9.8 in a normal year (*).
Curiously enough, this much more water has been accompanied by higher than usual temperatures. April long term average is 66.95ºF and this year it was 70.08ºF. This means that plants have had 18% more of “useful” (**) temperature to grow.
Expectedly, the vines responded accordingly with a rapid shoot growth as seen on the pictures from one single plant. These photos were taken on March 27th, April 20th and April 28th (left to right, obviously). Over that period some of the shoots grew more than ½ inches per day.
Also, they made it to “flower” within April, as can be seen on the picture to the right (taken on April 28th). This is almost a month before it would be in a cooler region, which is totally normal, because grape vines basically work in alignment with the surrounding temperatures.
From a water surplus in Dripping Springs we see a deficit in Brady, TX (some 160 miles to the North West). In fact, instead of 7.17 inches from January to April, it has rained 6.27 only, or 13% lower than a normal year. Not bad if we consider that last year it was only 1.31 inches up to April.
Concerning temperature, Brady has shown a similar pattern compared to Dripping Springs, with a 21% above average, taken from 67.55ºF average during the month over an historical 64.45ºF.
Overall, it’s been a good kick off month. Plants are showing a healthy and steady growth and are getting used to the warm temperatures. It’s too soon to speak about this year’s quality potential, because that is defined later in the season, although, so far so good.
Director of Winemaking
FALL CREEK VINEYARDS
* Normal year. Long term average of a particular variable like temperature or rainfall for a given period. It’s used for reference only because a “normal year” is never going to happen.
** Useful temperature is that above 50ºF (10ºC)