Tuesday , June 25 2024

The drought’s impact on California wine crops

The drought is having a big impact on California’s wine crop.

"I think we had one small vineyard block that was down 40%," Steve Felten, of Klinker Brick Winery, said.

The vines in Lodi are dormant after a bit of a down year.

"We just don’t have as much wine as we normally have," Felton added.

Felten isn’t alone. New numbers out Tuesday show it’s a statewide drop-off. Four point sixteen million tons of grapes were crushed in 2014, that’s down 11% from last year’s record crop. The Lodi District crushed 674,000 tons of grapes, 17% off last year’s pace.

"2012 and 2013 were bumper crops in the Lodi Region and around California," Camron King, Exec. Dir., Lodi Winegrape Commission said.

King says the industry knew those record crops wouldn’t last forever.

"Vines that produce very vigorously for a couple years in a row want to take a natural break," he said. "So you didn’t look at the numbers and say, oh my gosh, what happened?"

"We have a drought but we don’t have a wine shortage right?" Pete Mietz asked.

The answer, from Camron, is no shortage anytime soon, and prices shouldn’t change much either. Like most winemakers, Steve saw the drop-off coming and saved some of his 2013 wines, to sell now, minimizing the hit he’ll take.

"A small hit, not a lot though. We just don’t have as much bulk wine to sell," Felton said.

In fact, his biggest fear is something he can’t plan for: the weather. For one thing, there’s the drought, and Steve says vines are maturing early because it’s warmer than usual.

"They are dripping right now," Felton said. "Which is early, yeah, they usually don’t start that until March." 

Nick Janes, reporting in Lodi.

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