Winter in Wine Country:  It Cuts the Mustard

Winter in Wine Country: It Cuts the Mustard

Mustard Season in Wine Country

The most popular time to visit wine country is in fall during harvest.  Wineries are full of energy as grapes are pulled from the vines.  The scenery with lush vineyards changing color is beautiful.  Over recent years, people have started to discover another time of year that has plenty to offer visitors:  Mustard Season.

Typically starting in January and lasting into March, mustard season is a time when seasoned wine enthusiasts enjoy visiting wine country.  Mustard seeds begin to sprout after heavy late autumn rains, yielding a breathtaking landscape of bare vines floating in a sea of yellow, orange, and gold flowers.  Folklore has it that these gorgeous plantings are the result of Spanish Friars establishing missions in the 1700's, using mustard seeds to mark trails from southern to northern California.  

Today, winemakers intentionally plant mustard as a natural fertilizer and pesticide for the vineyard.  It dramatically reduces the need for chemical eradicators during winter months.  Plants suppress nematode, the tiny worms that feed on bare vines.  Mustard is rich in nutrients like phosphorus and nitrogen, feeding the vines and surrounding soil.  Typically turned over by plows in March, it becomes a natural mulch and compost to foster a strong growing season.  

Mustard season is a time of year to consider in your future plans to visit the vineyards.  It is an entirely different kind of beautiful in comparison to fall.  Flights and hotel rates are far cheaper.  Crowds and traffic are much less of a factor.  Dinner reservations at the best restaurants come easier.  Winemakers are relaxed leaving more time to spend talking about wine and the history of the vineyards.  Give it a try sometime.  We think you will like what you see.


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