This January, Paso Robles, and much of California has suffered from one of the dryest winters on record.  Normally, at this time of year, the grasses and wild flowers (otherwise known as weeds) would be enough feed for our 5 free-ranging cows.  We were on target for winter rainfall at the end of November, but the surprisingly dry months subsequent dried up what should have been growing.  While the days have been particulary beautiful, with incredible clarity and warm temperatures, we were hoping for more rain!

Although, as I write this, the weekend storm brought about 2 inches of rain.  Still, this is not enough to make up for the lost rainfall.  The vines and olives will be okay, primarily due to 2 past wet winters.  Still, it is discouraging to look out at the hills, and see brown where there should be green.  Along with our 5 cows eating what little they can find, and fertiziling our soils, we have 2 young lambs on the property grazing with the cows.
A good factor of a dry January: we’ve been able to get in to the vineyards to begin the pruning.  Vines go dormant in the winter, all the leaves fall to the ground (making the rolling hills of vines around us so beautiful, full of fall colors).  The vines reach into the soil to get the nutrients and strength for the summer to come.  We believe winter is the most active time for a vine, and that the health of a vine will be seen in the summer when the natural growth occurs.  We prune on descending moon days, and on fruit and flower days according to the lunar calendar by Maria Thun.  It typically takes 30 solid work days to prune over 7,000 vines.

And boy!  Can you see the growth in the olive trees!  I love this photo, of Bede running down the road with El Cid hot on his heels!  In December, we harvested 1,500 pounds of olives, yielding a little over 100 litres of extra-virgin estate olive oil.  Not alot of oil!  But this was typical for olive trees this year, many of our friends with trees didn’t have a single olive, so we are thankful the little amount of oil we did harvest!  Next in the vineyard?  Building cold frames for the garden, ordering more bees and to continue pruning (as well as spraying the BD sprays and trapping the pesky gophers).