Cause and Effect

Four years of extreme weather conditions have impacted the wine industry. Dry, warm conditions, along with freak rain and hail storms and of course the drought have all taken their toll. Just taking a look at this years ‘ 2015 harvest season, we know that crop yields were dramatically down, anywhere from 25 to 60 per cent across the board. First reports for our cabernet sauvignon harvest were from 35 to 40% lower. We know that the overall warmth and dryness of this last year resulted in an early bud break which was then slowed down in May when an unusual, and fortunately brief cold front hit just as the grape clusters began to set. Then came a dramatic spike in temperatures which brought the grapes to maturity early, followed by a freak hail storm in June and a rain storm that dropped 3 to 4 inches in some areas in July all of which played a role in the reduced harvest yields. What a roller coaster ride! Much of this has been caused by the weather changing  El Niño  conditions we have been in since March.  As long as we are adding El Niño to to the list of conditions we are experiencing, let’s define it a bit…El Niño occurs when temperatures in the Pacific Ocean rise due to a change in the normal wind direction, resulting in extreme weather. Couple that with the four year drought and there is a potential for disaster when the anticipated  heavy rains arrive. Most recently, in southern California, we saw the devastation this kind of situation  could cause when the I-5 Grapevine was shut down due to massive mudslides. Preparation for this upcoming event is very much on the minds of winemakers and growers up and down the state. Vineyards are taking measures to prepare for the predicted heavy rain and making sure that steps have been taken to protect against soil erosion and maintain flood control, especially if you are on a hillside the way we are.S6301668!  On the plus side, in spite of the challenges of the past year, there is an expectation of excellent quality in the wines that will be produced from the 2015 harvest…in this case, less is more and fewer berries also meant tighter  and more flavorful grape clusters. As for the rains, in this parched state of California all I can say is…

Bring it on!!