The seasons have changed here in Walla Walla. The 2009 harvest is over, the wine is finished and in barrel. The weather has turned windy and cold and of course the days are suddenly getting dark very early. We have had a nice dusting of snow in the Blue Mountains for the last couple of weeks, a sure sign that fall is turning into winter in a hurry here in the Walla Walla Valley. The change in the weather means lots of work for the vineyard crew. Every winter we run the risk of damaging cold temperatures. Most winters are mild in Walla Walla, but every so often we have extreme temperatures that can be way too cold for the grape vines. In 2004 we saw temperatures of 17 degrees below in the Pepper Bridge Vineyard. Temperatures that cold are too extreme for the varietals that we are growing, Cabernet and Merlot are particularly cold sensitive. As a result, we sustained substantial damage in the vineyard and in many sections, the vines had to be cut down to the ground. The vines will grow back after being cut to the ground but it means one year without fruit. So as an insurance policy against the cold, our crew is out in the vineyard burying canes. Each spring we allow two canes to grow at the base of our vines, they are suckers and normally would be clipped off. These canes grow along the ground all summer and now that it is fall, Arturo and crew are burying these canes under a blanket of dirt. Hopefully if we were to experience an extra cold winter that damaged the above ground growth, the canes that are buried would be protected from the cold. In the spring we would be able to cut down the dead growth, unbury the canes, trellis them and they will bear fruit. Of course all this work is done by hand, with the crew walking every row with shovels. With the weather turning quickly into winter, it is cold and windy work. But without their hard work we run the risk of going a season without fruit.