Rain in NapaDear Cabby,

Recent January rains have me concerned about my spouse. She’s an obsessive wine geek and started moping in fear wet weather is hurting the upcoming vintage. Any suggestions?


Soaking in Sonoma


Dear Soaking,

It can be a challenge living with someone who meditates solely on rainfall totals. It’s a matter of too much detail and not enough information. Adding to the stress are unsubstantiated posts on wine message boards, from speculators, who don’t understand how vines work. Don’t fret. We have a course of action to put your wife’s mind at ease.

When considering the quality of a vintage, it’s important to keep in mind it is not about the quantity of rain El Niño will deliver. It really isn’t. When weighing the merits of a particular vintage, she should be reflecting upon the Holy Trinity of timing, temperature and humidity. Today, we’ll focus on the timing of rain.

Depending on when budbreak occurs, rain into March is generally a good thing… especially coming on the heels of the parched vintages between 2012 and 2015. Vines need to drink. Because the vines are dormant, there are no berries and therefore, no concern flavors are being diluted. In short, we like the rain.

To encourage her to embrace her Inner Drip & Drop, communication is key. Otherwise, it will be difficult to get to the root of what’s wrong. For this reason, gently confront the issue by signing up for rain dance lessons through mid-March. I recommend briefly pausing your rain dances during budbreak. However, depending on several factors, like varietal, slope, soil type and location, you may resume practice again until shortly before flowering.

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