Thursday, April 20, 2017

Smudge pots

A frost/light freeze was predicted for this morning. As we woke up, Ken noticed flames out in the vineyard. He quickly realized that the flames were from smudge pots. He saw the grower working out there last evening, but he wasn't very close and didn't see exactly what he was doing. I think this is first time we've seen smudge pots lit in the vineyard parcels behind our house.

Burning smudge pots just outside our back gate at around 6:45 this morning.

I got up at 06h30 and thought I should go out there with the camera. So I pulled on my jeans and Callie and I ventured out to see what we could see. The pots were arrayed in the lowest part of the vineyard. I assume that's where the coldest air would settle. There was no one around; I figured the grower was off to another parcel to light pots there. The vines are leafing out now and there are flower buds, so I hope the pots helped to prevent any frost damage.

Smudge pots in the lower end of the parcel that sits to the north of our house, looking east toward the sunrise.

So I snapped a few photos in the early light. Callie was excited to be out so early; she'll get her regular walk at the normal time. There was no wind, as you can see from the rising smoke, and it didn't feel all that cold. The thermometer at the house, which normally reads warmer than it would out in the vineyard, read 2.3ºC (about 36ºF), and inside the greenhouse it was a balmy 9.1ºC (about 48ºF).

Smoke rising from the burning pots.


  1. That's interesting that the owner felt it was cold enough for that. But I guess if you're worried that you'll lose your entire season it's worth the trouble. Anyway, you got some nice shots of the event. Stay warm. It's gonna be another breezy day today.

  2. Hope it worked and the frost didn't damage the vines! Our fig suffered frost damage a couple of nights ago.
    Great pics, very atmospheric.
    We've seen the large chimney with fan affairs in the vineyards near Reuilly, but haven't seen the smudge pots lit.

  3. I sure hope that was all that was needed to save the new growth. Great pics.

  4. love these pics....eerily beautiful

  5. I would have been excited like Callie to see and smell those firey pots. I'm hoping that nothing froze.

  6. Interesting and a little spooky. The So California citrus groves seem to have shifted from smudge pots to enormous permanently installed fans. Never seen one of the fans in action though.

  7. Orange growers in Florida used to use smudge pots, too. Hope these were effective, and that the local grape crop is successful.

  8. I noticed on my walk this morning (Friday) that there are a lot of shriveled grape leaves and flowers out in the vineyard where there were no smudge pots. I don't know how to assess damage, but I'm sure we'll hear about it. There's still a lot of green, but the amount of frozen leaves I saw is kind of depressing.


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