It’s Raining, It’s Pouring…

Riverbench row of vines Dec 2009

Interview with Jim Stollberg, vineyard manager for Riverbench Winery and owner of Maverick Farming, a vineyard management company.

On The Wine Trail (OTWT): Hi Jim! We’re curious about how vineyards are preparing for the rain during the week of January 17, 2010. The weather experts are predicting an enormous amount of rain throughout the week. What are some concerns? What precautions are you taking?
JS: Preventing erosion in erosion prone slopes and soils is crucial. We are putting out sandbags and hay bales to direct and slow the flow of water. We are cleaning all drainages of loose vegetation and/or other trash or objects which could impede flow or block pipes.

OTWT: With a full week or more of rain, are you rushing to get any vineyard tasks done now?
JS: We are getting as much weed control done as possible because I don’t expect to be able to get a tractor into fields for around 2 weeks. Whether it is chemical spraying or cultivating weeds, they will basically get 2 weeks of growth without us being able to do too much.

OTWT: It seems like local farmers are always wanting more rain. Is there a downside to this much rain?

JS: The downside to a lot of rain over a short period is increased run-off rather than infiltration into the soil and filling of the soil around the roots and the groundwater bank. We have been so short of rain the last 2 years that I won’t complain. Any rain will help fill local reservoirs for both ag use throughout the year and also domestic use in cities.

OTWT: Thanks, Jim! Good luck with the preparations!

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