Seasonality plays an important role in the dynamics of infectious disease. For vector-borne pathogens, the effects of seasonality may be manifested in the variability in vector abundance, vector infectiousness, and host-infection dynamics over the year. The relative importance of multiple sources of seasonality on the spread of a plant pathogen, Xylella fastidiosa, into vineyards was explored. Observed seasonal population densities of the primary leafhopper vector, Graphocephala atropunctata, from 8 years of surveys in northern California were incorporated into a model of primary spread to estimate the risk of pathogen infection under different scenarios regarding seasonality in vector natural infectivity (i.e. constant or increasing over the season) and grapevine recovery from infection (i.e. none or seasonal recovery). The extent to which local climatic conditions affect risk estimates via differences in vector abundance was investigated. Seasonal natural infectivity, seasonal recovery, and especially the combination, reduced (up to 8-fold on average) within-season and cumulative yearly estimates of pathogen spread. Estimated risk of infection also differed greatly among years due to large differences in vector abundance, with wet and moderate winter and spring conditions favouring higher G. atropunctata abundance. Seasonal variation of the pathogen–vector interaction may play an important role in the dynamics of disease in vineyards, reducing the potential prevalence from what it could be in their absence. Moreover, climate, by affecting sharpshooter leafhopper abundance or activity, may influence Pierce’s disease dynamics.