Napa Valley vintners prepare for drought
With California in the grips of severe drought, Napa Valley wine grape growers on Tuesday said some vines are ripening early and that farmers are planning fewer crops to save water.
NAPA, Calif. — With California in the grips of severe drought, Napa Valley wine grape growers on Tuesday said some vines are ripening early and that farmers are planning fewer crops to save water.
Vineyard owners are pruning earlier than usual and on a shorter schedule, Domenick Bianco of Renteria Vineyard Management said.
If the Valley does not see late winter or spring rains, 2014 will yield a smaller crop.
- MSN Weather: What causes drought?
"Water amount determines yield. If you use 80 percent less water than last year, you could see 80 percent of the crop," Bianco said.
Still, unlike other areas, some Napa growers say access to water in underground aquifers will help them irrigate crops even if rains are light through this year.
While it will not make up for rainfall, it can help mitigate the loss of yield to dry weather in the short-term, said Hal Huffsmith, director of vineyard operations at Trinchero Family Estates.
Because rains may still come, it is too early to tell if the drought will affect the retail price of Napa wines, said Jennifer Putnam, executive director of Napa Valley Grapegrowers.
Meantime, growers will reduce the amount of irrigation they do to conserve water.
They will also not plant so-called "ground cover," or smaller plants that live between vines to help with erosion, and the fields of lush green vines so many are used to seeing in the valley will be pared down.
"They're going to be more precise about irrigation," Putnam said. "We're not going to grow those lush canopies."
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Neighboring Sonoma County? and Lake County? has NO drought problem? You say only Napa has a drought? Are these counties not right next to each other?
Something tells me we are not hearing the whole truthful story......
Please come forward, be honest, and tell the world the whole truth. Until you do, your article is not making sense to me.
The article should of stated the whole grape growing region will be greatly effected not just Napa Valley but the larger Sonoma County to the west over the hills, Lake County to the north and Mendocino County north of Sonoma. I grew up in that area and in years where there is a lot of rain the growers still use a tremendous amount of water from the creeks leaving them very low if not dry, I cant imagine what that region will look like in the summer if hardly any rains fall in the next 3 months.
A few years ago Sonoma county was constructing a pipeline to carry treated waste water to the geothermal region a few miles north. Many residents and local leaders brought up the idea to use this pipeline to send the water along the way to some of the vineyards to save water but the growers said no because of the fear of wine tourists would freak out learning the vineyards were being irrigated with treated waste water.
Time for desalination and using more treated waste water because you can only build so many reservoirs because you going to have to buy people out to make them relocate.