A few days before Thanksgiving 2010, the Walla Walla Valley had a huge and sudden freeze. Some vineyards had very young plantings, others had fruit on very low, flat ground, some with buried canes, others just coming off of harvest- depending on the vineyard manager, the age of the vines, the site location, the winemakers’ picking styles, the different grape varieties- vines were in all different stages of ripening off for the winter or already being frost hearty.
Many vineyard managers and crews have already gone through their sites and guessed at what percentage of their crop or parts of their vines were damaged or killed. These educated guesses help us figure out how to prune the vines during these weeks. But at the end of it all, no one knows exactly what the damage was until the green either does… or does not start popping up.
Despite all of the glamour, sophistication and hoopla that comes with wine, it is, at its essence, still a farming game. Dirt, sticks, stones, greens, branches, roots, buds and fruit are the focus. Nature wins, we just try to listen and brace for it.