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Winter Weather in Walla Walla

by Jay DeWitt, Managing Partner and Vigneron

Birch Creek Vineyard - Winter

Birch Creek Vineyard with dusting of snow on the ground and mostly blue skies in the late afternoon.

I sometimes chuckle to myself at the personification of “Mother Nature,” as the benevolent, nurturing life force. Farmers know that “Mother” can also be an ill-tempered, whimsical disciplinarian. I’ve made my living farming and winemaking for nearly 4 decades, and can remember a number of hard spankings administered by “Mother Nature.”

The singular winter time worry for Walla Walla Valley grape farmers is that low temperatures will damage the fruit buds that formed in the prior growing season. If the temperatures get low enough, the buds die and there won’t be a crop that year. In very extreme circumstances, there is even the possibility of having to replace the vineyard.

This winter has been kind to the vineyard thus far, at the time of this writing, there has only been one such night. Dirk spent that very cold January night babysitting our wind generating machines that moderate air temperatures. It worked, a recent evaluation revealed less than 10% of the primary buds are damaged. That small amount of damage is not enough to affect the yield or quality of the 2022 vintage.