Kicking off the 2021 Vineyard Growing Season with Rain
Oregon and Washington have a reputation for rainy weather. I have never lived anywhere where there is such a preoccupation with rainfall.
The truth is that here in the northern Willamette Valley we have a wet season and a dry season. Normal rain patterns are wet winters and dry summers. Average temperatures range between 32-50 degrees in the winter and 60-80 degrees in the summer. We do not have many extreme temperatures. These are ideal conditions for the Pinot Noir grape that prefers cool nights and warm days.
Rain begins in October and can last off and on into July. Our annual rainfall average is 43 inches which is not exceptionally high, however we often get periods of light rainfall lasting for weeks at a time.
When the rains stop, they stop for months at a time. It is not unusual to have dry conditions from early July until the end of October.
All of this creates our lush green colors, grows our timber high and fast and grows moss and mold on everything. The chief concern is that dry conditions in the winter lead to annual forest fires. We have teams of forest fire fighters who make a good living going up and down the west coast fighting fires. The more winter rains and snows we get affect the severity of the summer fire conditions. Certainly these fires were on our minds in 2020.
This winter we are experiencing heavy rainfall events and mild temperatures. The conditions in the Pacific Oceans create weather patterns called El Niño and La Niña. We have received over half of our normal rainfall already since October and it is early in the season. There has not been a killing frost and I still have vegetables in the garden and flowers in the planters.
Last night winds up to 17 miles per hour and driving rains broke limbs from the 100 foot Douglas Fir trees around our house, sending them flying into the yard and around the house. We received 3 inches of rain in six hours. Power was out all over the mountain as trees blew down onto power lines.
You don’t want to be out in a storm like that as the velocity of the branches embed themselves eight inches into ground. We have had occasions when the flying branches dent the metal siding and put holes into the stucco exterior walls.
This is all very dramatic, but I guess we won’t have to worry about wildfires this summer.
The mild temperatures are a mixed blessing as the weeds keep growing and bugs winter over. The rains will nourish the vines well into the summer making irrigation unnecessary, and we have not had to shovel snow……yet.