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Rain in Sonoma, finally…

Written by Ken Wornick

Backed by 20+ vintages and many dozens of wines produced, Ken is a Sonoma-based wine consultant and founder of Hydeout Sonoma and Dysfunctional Family Winery.

December 23, 2021

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Give thanks for the rain in your life which waters the flowers of your soul.

Join us as we tour our way around Sonoma County and celebrate the arrival, finally, of the long awaited rains.

And at the bottom of this post, tell us your stories of how you’ve enjoyed the rainy weather?…

When it comes to growing wine grapes, the 2021 vintage in Sonoma was stressful. It rained a mere 13 inches total, and most of that rain fell in three brief events separated widely with hot sunny days. Hardly any water percolated into the root zone of the grape vines. So in many cases, growers had to use a lot of water from deep wells to drip into the vineyard. Conditions are already way better in the 2022 vintage – thanks to all of this early rain. It has rained over 13 inches and it’s still just December 2021. And even better, we haven’t had any sunny days or warm temperatures in between rain events, so the ground has remained saturated and damp. Rain water is far superior to drip irrigation. But that’s a science story for another time. For now, let’s just celebrate getting wet…

The Arroyo Seco is a 6.9 mile tributary of Schell Creek that pours down from the Mayacamas, on to Arrowhead mountain, and then across the Hydeout Ranch and Dysfunctional Family Winery at the north west corner of the Carneros appellation

Video: the Arroyo Seco starts to flow

Jack London State Park was toasted to a crisp by the end of the summer. But when the rain finally came, the park cam alive.

Video: On a hike in Jack London State Park

By December 23rd, the water level of the Arroyo Seco was starting to rise

Video: After another night of heavy rain, the Arroyo Seco flow increased

Rain poured off the roof and down the rain chains and sang it’s happy song. This rain water is going directly into our DYS Sagrantino vineyard, our estate red wine, a rare central-Italian red found mostly in Umbria. It’s recently been noted to contain some of the highest polyphenol (antioxidants) levels of any red wine on earth. (vineyard visible in the background).

Video: At the Hydeout, the rain poured down heavy from the roof

Before the rains really got under way, contractors connected all of the Hydeout Ranch rain gutters to the hand-dug well capturing rain, stopping wasteful erosion,  and recycled back onto the land (white riser pipe)

And they built a Gabian wall to capture most of the runoff into the ag sump from this small ditch at the edge of the ranch

Video: the new Gabian wall, a beauty of natural construction materials, functions as a dam to hold back water in this minor ditch

Hydeout Ranch animal sanctuary – when we bought the ranch, a fence had been built long ago (as was the habit then) right up against the creek edge. That old fence prevented animals (and people) from safely visiting and moving along the riparian corridor. One of the first projects I undertook was to take down that old fence and built a new fence 150 feet west of the creek. In addition, I built just next to the new fence a long high pile of logs and green waste. Now, with several acres of land open adjacent to the creek, and lots of safe spaces to nest in the log piles, wild animals have returned to occupy this land, including hawks, owls, buzzards, skunks, rabbits, gophers, moles, voles, raccoons, and even a million worms in every puddle.

Video: the peaceful sanctuary providing animals with access to land and water

It rained so hard last night, even the fenced animal sanctuary started to flood. It was fun to wade through it in my knee-high rain boots.

Video: Wading through the large puddle in the animal sanctuary

On my walk this morning along the edge of the creek, I came across the horseshoe. At one time, the Hydeout Ranch housed over one hundred horses and perhaps this horseshoe was tossed or thrown into the creek long ago.

One of the prized smaller oaks at the ranch responds to the rain with almost overnight new growth. The red bench sits under the tree next to the doggy cemetery where our Oliver rests. A few years ago, all five of us gathered, dug the hole, wrapped Oliver in a blanket and buried him here.

A quick ride around the ranch to check on things between storms

In other news:

In the lab at the winery, checking pH, TA, and VA levels for wines of the still-fermenting vintage 2021

Video: Lab wine reagents bubbling away

A final flashback to the middle of the pandemic summer of 2021, one of the driest on record.

Happy holidays and happy new year to all of our blog post readers, now numbering over 1000 strong and growing.

Go here to visit: Hydeout Sonoma Ranch

Go here to order wine for pick or delivery: Dysfunctional Family Winery

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2 Comments

  1. Sally

    Doggy cemetery ❤️🥺🐶

    Reply
  2. Rangernic

    Maybe I need a wall like that, hummmmmmm

    Reply

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