“And at last it comes. You hear a patter … you see a leaf here and there bob and blink about you; you feel a spot on your face, on your hand. And then the gracious rain comes, gathering its forces-steady, close, abundant.”
~ John Richard Vernon, “The Beauty of Rain,” 1863
As the sun set over Deukmejian Wilderness Park last Friday, rain seemed a distant memory. The sky was clear and the color unique of autumn – “October blue.” Warm breezes blew from the canyon, but cooled as night fell. It was an evening of celebration, honoring Crescenta Valley’s Finest, hosted by the Crescenta Valley Weekly. Thank you, Robin.
While mingling among friends and acquaintances there, I was drawn into an interesting conversation. A few members of the Stonebarn Vineyard Conservancy (my membership is forthcoming) were talking about the recent grape harvest. I gathered the time for harvest of their 71 grapevines had arrived; picking was scheduled for the next day.
A little background. Ripeness is determined by the sugar and acid content of the fruit. The various wines require different levels of these two elements. Apparently, the best way to judge grapes is an old-fashioned one – appearance, smell and taste. With ripe grapes, ready for picking, the “keepers of the vineyard” eagerly moved in with gloves and clippers in hand. They were not alone.
Apparently, also keeping watch over the vines was the resident wildlife. Barriers successfully kept out the deer, coyotes, raccoons and other critters. They were not the problem; it was the birds and bees. Hours before the harvesting was to begin, flocks and swarms descended on the vineyard. The bees go for the sweet grape juice after birds have pecked open and feasted on the fruit. According to a Conservancy member, only the early burgundy was spared and a small amount of the abouriou. Disappointing … though how can one compare a glass of wine to a critter’s wee sip of juice in time of drought?
Out of the vineyard and into reality. An El Niño update as promised. The ocean and atmospheric conditions have taken a more optimistic path as waters across the equatorial are warming. Meteorologists and climate models worldwide are once again looking forward to El Niño, or a near-El Niño, developing over the coming months, hopefully blessing the southwest, U.S. with precious rain!
The first week of October brings temperatures well over 100 degrees, accompanied by the first Santa Ana winds of the season. The heat, the winds, and low humidity create “critical fire weather conditions.” Next week, more hot weather …
Here’s to a nice glass of “CV’s Finest”– cool vintage water!
Sue Kilpatrick is a
Crescenta Valley resident and
Official Skywarn Spotter for the
National Weather Service. Reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.