Drought, Record Temps Worry Winemakers

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By Courtney Cochran

As if economic woes weren't already enough to worry about, California vintners are now coping with one of the most severe water shortages seen in decades, the result of several years of interminable drought brought on by prevailing La Niña conditions off the West Coast.  With many wineries reporting on-premise reservoirs at historic lows and dwindling well resources, the outlook is grim indeed for Golden State winemakers.
Frost Fears
Further complicating things are the frost worries that a water shortage creates for winegrowers, who usually rely on water from their reservoirs to spray over vines for frost protection during spring months.  The unseasonably warm temperatures that have lately blanketed the state mean that some vines may awaken sooner than usual from their winter sleep, making them particularly vulnerable to early season frost damage. "We really need rain now," is the way Ryan Decker, a viticulturalist for Rodney Strong Vineyards, summed it up for the Press Democrat in a particularly sobering article on the phenomenon. "It's potentially pretty horrific," conceded Peter Haywood, a grower who raises Zinfandel in Sonoma Valley, in the same piece.  

After reading, all I can say is this: here's to hoping - nay, praying (dancing!?) - for rain.  These be hard times, indeed.

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