Our Icicles Are Famous

Rarely do people wake up to find a photo of their vineyard plastered on the pages of CNN. But that is exactly what transpired yesterday morning when Robert Clay Vineyards popped up in the morning Internet media parade.

The excitement generated from the national coverage has inspired us to pull the curtain back on the daily workings of the farm, the saga of growing grapes, and the fascinating stories of all those who pass through our gates to either work or volunteer on the property.

So welcome to the first of many forthcoming blogs to be featured right here on the Robert Clay Vineyards website! We’re thrilled to share the adventures with you and include you in our “grape family.”

Now let’s get back to the icicles.

This time of year is like playing Russian roulette with the weather as far as farming is concerned. Situations can change in an instant as nature rapidly fluctuates through hot and cold like she’s an indecisive teenager changing clothes. Frost and hail are real threats when plants are newly budding and sometimes there’s absolutely nothing to be done to prevent the type of damage that could potentially maim the season’s crop.

Dan utilizes a break in the weather to check the status of the Chardonnay vines

Dan utilizes a break in the weather to check the status of the Chardonnay vines

Hence, spring is when we get a little obsessed about the weather. The type of obsessed where you set up alerts for your phone based on the ambient temperature. The type of obsessed when you have terrifying nightmares about early bud break. The type of obsessed that makes one consider driving across the country to pick up a discounted farm fan for sale in California that just might do the trick even though it’s 1,300 miles away but worth a shot only if you could talk a buddy into trading off driving responsibilities—what’s your schedule look like?

Oh yea, we’re serious about spring and seriously willing to do whatever it takes to protect our babies.

The unusually warm temperatures of mid-February nearly made these fears a reality when, in an unassuming corner of the Ruby Cabernet, someone discovered a puffy, swollen bud. When grape buds start to “push,” they look similar to the head of a Q-tip. Ask any of the local grape growers and they’ll tell you how catastrophic early bud break can be. There’s simply aren’t enough preventative measures in that case to save the fragile buds from the veritable onslaught of spring.

The only real savior is a frigid blast from the withering lungs of winter to keep the vines dormant. Fortunately, that’s what we got while everyone hunkered inside their ice-encrusted homes fantasized about the return of warmth.

True, it was glorious to finally see the sun pop out yesterday from behind the grey blanket that has been drenched over Mason for the last several days. We needed a break, too. After a lovely afternoon outside to soak in some rays, our minds again wandered to that pesky fear. A quick look at the weather forecast confirmed that the evening cold would return for a few days longer.

Another spring bullet dodged here at Robert Clay Vineyards…*twitch*

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