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Stories from the valley

Vineyard Snow

Contributed by Eileen Javora Boeger

It doesn’t happen every winter but when it does it is quite a sight! This February brought some of the best snow in years to the Sierra foothills, blanketing the vineyards of Boeger Winery in up to 6 inches of snow at times. While a dusting here is more typical, this February was remarkable with measurable snow in three consecutive storms. Enough to sled through the vineyard rows!

For grape growers, getting snow this time of year isn’t a concern,  vines are still dormant and so snow doesn’t harm them. Getting to all the pruning that needs to be done is another story! Rain, snow and mud can put crews behind schedule in snipping last year’s vines to allow for new growth this year.

There are a few year-round growers in El Dorado County along historic Hwy 49, and they certainly felt the impact of the snowy season. 24 Carrot Farm in Placerville produces winter veggies like kale and broccoli. On the day I stopped by for a visit, hail, then snow came down while harvesting green onions.

Despite having to harvest around the wintery weather, owner Ben Hanson is in good spirits, saying this winter has been great. He’s had only minor damage to crops and is careful not to harvest when vegetables are under snow or in freezing temps, which can lead to produce feeling soft instead of crisp when it thaws.

Even though the storms were an inconvenience for travel, especially for those trying to get to the snow to play, the cold is welcome for many growers. Drought years can often bring mild weather and a lack of cold temperatures needed to achieve a successful and even bud break in the spring. Not a concern this year, the chill has been plentiful! For now, we will just step back and enjoy the beauty of winter and see what spring brings.