Picking of fruit for 2011 is now done. Last week was a non-stop pick and process fest as a big storm was heading into town and things needed to get off the vine before the wet weather arrived.
Being a winemaker means you are obsesed with weather. This time of year, the weather you are most concerned with is rain. When rain will arrive, and how much will come down will make your picking decisions for you. So trying to predict what is on the way is of utmost importance.
In addition to basic weather reports, and the fancy wine grape based weather report we get from the Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance, there are a couple of other inputs I use. The mostly I use the Pacific Surf Forecast. Whereas farmers are mostly concerned with what is happening right outside, surfers are more concerened with what is happening 1000's of miles away. If you read this stuff often enough, you start to see how weather, for example, off the coast of northern Japan can affect weather here in California. Understading the global trends and patterns of weather can often give you a good idea of what is comming your way well in advance.
Lastly, and most accurate, is this weather device for rain and cold:
Whenever these dudes start marching around the winery, I know something is up. I don't know if they are heading for high ground to stay dry or warm or what. But once I see a bunch of this kind of action, it's time to talk with the vineyard crew. This was the Saturday before last. I banked on this guy knowing what was up and called for 5 straight days of picking everything we had left on the vine. Worked out as we got done Thursday night and it poured all Friday, Saturday and Sunday. So thanks to my weather guy above for the heads up!