Winter

Winter

The grape harvest winds usually down in October or early November. But the process doesn't stop here, it only begins again. It’s also time for planting cover crops between the vine rows. Those crops help control erosion winter rains can sometimes bring. In a short time you may see some controlled burning of old grape vines. By ‘controlled’ we mean carefully watched over by the Air Quality Control Districts. They make sure weather conditions are right and every grower adheres to strictly drawn safety precautions. In November and December growers get a little time off. Grapes are dormant then, thank goodness. January is the start of the pruning season. Pruning is very important because it sets the stage for future crop levels -- both quality and quantity. A great way to learn, close up, how to prune your own grapes from the most skilled pruning professionals in the county is to watch the local newspaper for notices of county pruning contests sponsored by the Sonoma County Grape Growers Association. You can attend free of charge, of course. In late February or early March some vineyards will use herbicides such as Roundup® to kill weeds. Yup, the same herbicide you use on the lawn and garden. But it will be used in small amounts and only directly beneath the trellis where the mowers can’t reach. Wider, more accessible areas between rows will be disked or mowed. Keeping weeds down is a matter of conservation. It saves water -- and power -- since the water goes to the vines instead of weeds. When March arrives you can look forward to thick glorious carpets of bright yellow in some vineyards and green in others.