“Summer” 2010? Not along the coast
We know it’s cold. We feel it everytime we go out (except for a couple hours between 1-3 p.m. when the gloom parts just long enough for the sun to come out). The Wall Street Journal wrote an article last week saying it’s the coldest summer along the West Coast in decades. Nearly every day, my local Weather Channel station predicts “near record cold” nighttime low temperatures. I’ve been saying this since March. Cold, cold, cold. 2010: the year without a spring or a summer. My TV weatherman just told us “The last time it was 80 degrees in San Francisco was on March 19. The last time it was 70 degrees was on July 4.” He is freaking out because he’s never seen anything like it.
The harvest looks particularly threatened in Sonoma County. I think growers there are legitimately concerned that the grapes won’t be ripe before the rains come. Early-ripening varieties — sparkling wines, Sauvignon Blanc — should be okay. It’s those thicker-skinned grapes that could be problems. Growers are cluster-thinning like crazy, hoping to speed up the ripening process. That’s one traditional intervention, but it’s not guaranteed. Michel-Schlumberger’s winemaker, Jim Morris, told me, “In 30 years we’ve never seen the weather this extreme.” They’re worried about rain, about mildew. At this rate, the grapes won’t be ready to pick until Oct. 22. That’s pretty late. Dry Creek Valley could have a lot of rain by then.
Napa may be in better shape. Being one mountain range further inland, it’s a little warmer and drier. But it’s not without problems. “Right now we need HEAT,” Tara Sharp, from Capture, told me. Gerard Zanzonico (Del Dotto) said, “At least two weeks behind. More so on mountain fruit…Going to single cluster up on Howell. It’s snip, snip here and snip, snip there and a couple of Tra, La, La’s. That’s how we work the day away in the merry old land of Napa Valley!”
In Paso Robles, this from Kevin Sass, at Justin. “We are about 2 weeks behind here in Paso Robles as well. We have not hit the panic button as we always have low crop levels. But if we don’t see some heat by Labor Day, we will have to evaluate a real HEAVY green drop.” On the other hand, just so you don’t think I’m reporting only bad news, this, from Jason Haas at Tablas Creek: “We’re most like 1999 or 2005 here in Paso, about 10 days behind normal out at Tablas Creek. Definitely warmer than 1998, which itself was a pretty good Rhone vintage here. We should be fine (even good) as long as we don’t get unusually early rain.”
Up in Calaveras, Scott Klann is “VERY concerned” about some of his blocks that are three weeks behind schedule.
I haven’t talked to anyone from Anderson Valley, but the average high for today (tomorrow, as you read this) in Boonville is 91, while today’s predicted high is 79. That comports with my experience of the rest of Northern Calfornia’s weather pattern this summer — anywhere from 5-12 degrees below average highs, day after day. Ditto for Sonoma’s Town Square: average high for today 86.5, while today’s predicted high is only 76.
Santa Barbara? How are you doing?
And this just in from the National Weather Service, for the 8-14 day temperature prediction. Check out the map. The blue color and capital B mean “below normal.” Meanwhile, the East continues to bake.