Epic Hailstorm In Napa (Pics)

Unreal. I took these about 20 min ago down the street. It’s September! It’s not like this everywhere, I think just in Napa itself, and even there, only in parts.

We were not expected to get rain today, but we had two waves. A quick 1/5 inch about 2pm and then it cleared up. Then, BAM! Huge rain, the most thunder and lightening I’ve ever seen here, and about 4 min of intense pea-sized hail that just kept coming and coming.

People are walking around in places like after the earthquake, just marveling at it all. Someone needs to fire the weatherman.

“I’mmmmm dreaming of a white… harvest…”

image by Kingofmilwaukee

image by Kingofmilwaukee

That’s crazy!..your Pics looks like the first snowfall we see back here in NJ around November.

I have been following your weather there and it seems that you all have had some serious rain the last few days? Roy, how do you think this will affect the quality of the vintage overall since it seems many vineyards are still in the process of harvesting grapes?

Affect on crops/harvest??

That’s insane. What kind of temps are you having?

Well, I think any vineyards that got hit with hail like these pics and still has fruit on them, might be in a little bit of trouble. The berries are soft and already the leaves are changing color. So they could be stripped off and berries can crack with repeated direct hits.

In looking around though, I did not see any direct damage in the two vineyards I drove by. One of them being Moulds, which I source from, just 1/4 mile down the road from these pics. At Moulds, there was no ice on the ground. No leaves fell off and maybe just a scuff or two on grapes here and there. Both rounds of hail may have missed it.

Not sure how much rain today actually fell because it was so different in different areas. I am guessing at least an inch in most places. By itself that may or may not be a problem. Cab can really take abuse. Pinot would be a much different story right now. If Cab made it through the hail, the next worry is the vines sucking up the water through the roots over the next 48 hours and sending water into the grapes. In large quantities, that can cause grapes to burst. Even just 1-2 broken berries per cluster can attract all sorts of stuff you don’t want. Also, it can dilute flavors. But I don’t know if we got enough to have that issue. It was a lot of rain in a short period, but might not have been a huge amount, in total. Mold can become an issue if it warms up and is not dry. This is what caused 2011 to fall apart at the end.

So there is a lot to look at.

If you are Cabernet, and in a well-drained block, and you did not get nailed with hail, you should do okay. But this is the third rain in 10 days, and the biggest. Given the way the canopies are looking, etc, and the utter complete failure of people to predict the weather here, I suspect all remaining Cab fruit comes off as fast as they can take it off starting Monday and it will almost all be off everywhere by Friday. 2/3 of the valley was picked-out already. Almost no one wants to wait for storm #4.

Same thing in Fulton though not so much hail that it accumulated. Rain was so hard it broke on of our umbrellas and overwhelmed the septic for a bit. Stressing over our last block of Zin.