During spring months after the grapevines have gone through bud break, frost fans are used in vineyards to help circulate the air and keep temperatures around the grapevines from dropping to the freezing point. As discussed in our What is Bud Break? post, vineyards are susceptible to frost bite just like people, and frost damage can devastate the entire vintage. Frost fans can also be used to dry vineyards, as shown in this video. Weather forecasters reported that a storm would roll through Sonoma County wine country in September 2010, close to harvest time, and we were concerned — but we were also prepared to use our frost fans as hairdryers for the vines, so to speak. Working in vineyards where nature and nurture go hand in hand requires constant attention and adaptability.
Thankfully, the storm broke up as it came inland, and the rainfall totals were MUCH less than predicted (only 0.07 inch fell in Alexander Valley). The weather the last week of September 2010 — warm temperatures around 80 degrees and sunny with a slight wind — were perfect for drying out the vines and the soils and for keeping us on track with grape ripening. We did run the wind machines the morning of September 20 to dry out the vines a bit (both the clusters and the canopy had some moisture). If we have mornings with heavy fog and drizzle during the harvest season, we’ll continue to run the machines until the fog breaks.
Mother Nature is keeping us on our toes, as always. The vineyards are still looking really good.