Fair Play Grape Growing Climate
The Effect of Climate on Fair Play Grape Growing
Fair Play is located in El Dorado County and has the highest average elevation of any wine producing region in California. Because Fair Play’s significant elevation, temperatures swing significantly from day to night. The extreme temperature changes from day to night are suited to robust varietals that need acidity for balance.
Despite cool nighttime temperatures, the region is classified as a warm Region III on the UC Davis Heat Summation Scale. Fair Play’s climate has more than enough heat to ripen full bodied varietals like Zinfandel, Syrah, and Cabernet Sauvignon. Certain Rhone and Italian varietals that are both fruit driven and framed by acidity also thrive in Fair Play’s climate.
Perry Creek Vineyards is an impressive property that makes a very good Zinfandel in these conditions. The cool nights are critical in this AVA; without enough acidity, this powerful Zin would have too much alcohol to be balanced.
Spring frosts can cause problems, but most growers have learned to contend with this threat. They plant varietals that are naturally resilient to the cold on robust rootstocks.
On average, there is 35 to 40 inches of rainfall year in Fair Play. More elevated areas of the region are at the higher end of this range.
The soil does not retain this already scarce rainfall very well. This leads to resilient vineyards with large root systems that precariously cling to life. These vines are so stressed that they have very little energy for canopy development. They put all of their energy into reproduction; i.e. the grapes.
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