Those are the three little words I’m referring to – the musical patter of raindrops greeted us this last night as the first storm system of the late fall season swept in off the Pacific.  Often observed close to Christmas, “El Niño”, the weather system characterized by above average temperatures of sea water at the surface in the central and east Pacific, is supposed to deliver lots of rain this winter.  Will it go north or track over California?  No one really knows for sure, but you can bet that many of us in California are counting on it, even as weather wisdom says it won’t make a dent in our record drought.  Our last experience of serious rain was in April, when we had almost 3 inches, so you can imagine the excitement.  (In fact, the local classical station is featuring water-themed music all week!)  Our first real rain in seven months is a big deal!

Thank goodness there are no more grapes out on the vines; Napa was completely picked very early this year.  In the cellar, we’re waiting for a few more small tanks to finish their malo-lactic conversions and then we’ll be done with the lion’s share of hard work for the harvest.  New wines will go into various barrels to begin their long winter’s nap, some for only six months, some for almost two years.  Last week, the baby 2015 wines were evaluated and found to be steeped in color and showing a balance of acid, tannin and fruit that will require very little tweaking to improve.  We love it when Mother Natures does the work for us.

Harvest interns Claudia and Justine have been essential in getting this year’s harvest into barrel – Anthony and Rafael could never have done it alone.  Bringing in 140 tons of grapes and converting it to beautiful wine in barrel isn’t a job for the faint of heart.  Hours of work and worries wear us all down, so when the last day of pressing finally arrives, it’s a celebration.  Yes, both pumps need repairs and hoses will need to be replaced, but nothing on the scale of last year’s earthquake.  Hurrah – vintage 2015 is a wrap!