Another weekend of frost protection
Saturday and Sunday morning's temperatures both dropped below freezing, causing me to get up at 2:30 Sat morn, and 3:30 AM yesterday. The problem with this time of year is the vulnerability of the young shoots to frost damage. Last year, I had the sad fate of having to use much of my irrigation pond water for frost protection. Since our rainfall was so short, I really didn't have that much water left for the rest of the growing season. Now some out there who think dry-farming is the best thing since the invention of sliced bread and processed cheese may rejoice, but from the farming side of the equation, this is a bad thing. For as bad as frost is, having your vines wilted by extreme high temps during the summer peak is bad too.
There is a benefit to those who have wind machines, and vineyards with those installed get to save their pond water for irrigation. What they've traded for is added capital budget expenses, and a system which only has one function: mixing the air in your vineyard to avoid frost. On the plus side, you save water, either from your own ponds, wells, or drawn from the Russian River. I had pushed for putting a few wind machines into the budget in the past, and more so last year after the short rainfall, but persuaded myself not to with the idea that there might be some cleaner technology on the way to power them, namely solar instead of diesel or propane. (This type of system seems a bit too "iffy"...and without being backed up by plugging into the main grid, or having a propane back-up, probably wouldn't allow me to get any more rest than I do now. Betting that the system would have stored enough electricity from solar energy in the winter months to be useful 100% of the time it's needed is not a bet I'd want to make. Hopefully the near future hold some solution which is a bit greener and sustainable, rather than rely on a fossil fuel driven back-up system.)
I hope that one day I can look out and see a wind machine which is powered by the sun, but for now I'll bet on having the water available for preventing frost damage.