It's been a strange year. At the beginning, we had so much rain meteorologists were saying it was almost an abnormal year. Now, January and February have gone by with hardly any rain at all. The small bursts of rain we will be getting this week are something that vineyards are looking forward to in the Dry Creek Valley.
The dormant 25-year-old Petite Syrah vines in the Dry Creek Valley of Sonoma County don't look like much yet. They may be three weeks away from their most important annual event -- the bud break.
"It's the beginning of the vegetative cycle. So the vines are dormant now and this is when the leaves start to emerge, the shoots start to emerge," said Ned Horton from Quivira Vineyards.
And no one is watching it more closely than Horton, the vineyard manager for Quivira. As a storm approaches, he's keeping an eye on the sky, too.
"It will just be good to have more rain in the soil to help support the initial growth of vines," said Horton.
Good because this has been an unusual wet season -- one that began with near record rainfall that tapered off. It has left Bay Area reservoirs near capacities, but not ideal ones according to the Sonoma County water district.
"We would like to see spring rains. Our reservoirs, like many others in California, rely on the spring rains to top off the reservoirs going into the summer," said Mike Thompson, from the Sonoma County Water Agency.
Beyond humans, that matters to the steelhead, Chinook, and Coho salmon that return to these rivers and springs every fall. More water improves their chances. Spawning, bud breaking, the drinking of wine, it seems are all related.
"A little more rain might be nice. Evenly spaced out, another eight to 12 inches wouldn't hurt," said Horton.
And then, we'll have no worries until next year, when we begin the process all over again.