Louis Lucas is one of the folks who pioneered grape growing in Santa Barbara County, beginning with his partnership in the historic Tepusquet Vineyard. Back in those early days, planting a vineyard was seen as a risky business. There weren't very many wineries in the county and it wasn't yet clear if the bigger North Coast wineries would be willing to purchase grapes from such a supposedly warm area in Southern California.
Forced to lay on his back, Louis Lucas had enough.
For 40 years, the veteran Santa Barbara viticulturist had been the man behind the wines. His extensive knowledge of the area dates back to a time when the area had 60 acres of vineyards. Today there are more than 200 wineries, six AVAs and more than 21,000 acres of vines.
The grape crop is behind in our area and all over the state, around 15-25 days behind schedule. A very cool spring can be blamed. Our recent weather has been on the warmer side but not enough to catch up. Our Italian grapes are progressing well.
Today we are experiencing the first truly hot day of the year. At Valley View, it peaked at 106°F for a few minutes To me, the vines are a little behind schedule although, with warmer weather, we might catch up. Right now, we are expecting harvest to be late August to the first of September.
In our last newsletter, we were worrying about the freezing temperatures. Fortunately, the buds were not open and we came out of that in good shape. Since that time, we have had bud break. We had a couple nights of freezing temperatures. We had a few vines get nipped on the Goodchild Ranch and four acres of one of our Italian varieties took a pretty good hit. As we always say, in farming we live with the weather and it is a tremendous influence on what happens in the vineyards.
After a warm winter, March has come in with more than three weeks of freezing night time temperatures. We can be thankful that none of our buds have pushed. Otherwise, we would have some serious problems.
Spring has sprung with a nice three days of rain which were badly needed. The rain really helps us for irrigation and frost protection purposes. All the vines have been pruned and tied and buds are beginning to open. It won’t be long before we are into spraying, shoot removal, and tractor work.