Periodically C.A.R., the California Association of Realtors, publishes newsletters, e mags and other useful information which I find interesting and helpful. One such email I get from them is called “One Cool Thing”. The current issue was titled “The Water Crisis” which couldn’t be more timely given the drought happening here in the Napa Valley and throughout California.
With almost every municipality here having water usage reductions of 20 – 25 %, some mandatory others voluntary, living in the Napa Valley raises another question. How this year’s water shortage will affect the grape crop. Here is what one vineyard manager said in a post from ap.org, “NAPA VALLEY VINTNERS PREPARE FOR DROUGHT“.
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.
“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.
One other very interesting story I have been told by several of my vineyard, grape buyer clients, even though they expect a smaller crop, this year’s fruit can be one of the best. Grape vines are a very hardy crop and in very dry years, the grapes and the wine made from them can be extraordinary, a true vintage year. The wine from these dry years will have intense flavors and are the ones that will age extremely well allowing the wine to soften the tannins thoroughly. Tannins are what give wines a somewhat bitter taste and need to age, soften before drinking. Typically, a good Napa Valley red wine can age 4 – 8 years before reaching their prime, these from very dry years can age 10+ years allowing that balance and taste to reach its prime.
Thus, maybe there is a bright side to all this dryness and my brown grass will think kindly of my grape neighbors and what their struggle may bring. Till this drought ends, we will all just have to have a glass of wine and look forward to future rains and to the possible perfection to come. cheers cvc
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