Valley Drought 2014 Could Turn Wine Grape Growing Season Sour - KMPH FOX 26 | Central San Joaquin Valley News Source

Valley Drought 2014 Could Turn Wine Grape Growing Season Sour

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FRESNO COUNTY, Calif. (KMPH) -

Wine grape growers are really hoping it starts to rain soon or this could be a sour season. The problems wine grape growers are facing are made worse by the warm weather. Vineyard owners say vines are starting to ripen about six weeks earlier than normal.

At Engelmann Cellars in Fresno County grapes are big business. If Mother Nature doesn't get her act together the growing season could be in trouble.

"If it stays dry then it's really going to start affecting the size of the grapes, the size of the crop and everything else," says Owner of Engelmann Cellars Bret Engelman.

One of the big worries is if the vines continue to ripen and then it suddenly gets cold the vines will freeze, and will start their budding process all over again. There are also concerns over the drought.

"Right now it sounds like we'll get one water delivery and that's probably going to be it," adds Engelman, "And that's a big if, we may not get any water deliveries."

The drought means growers like Engelman will have to pump for water.

"Every time you fire up the electric switch on that pump you know money's going out and that's going to be the biggest thing for us," says the vineyard owner.

However, it isn't all bad news. Engelman says stressing out vines is actually good for them.

"We had a dry spring last year and we've grown some of the best Cabernet's we've ever grown out here," says Engelman.

He says it's because the vines go into crisis mode. They will grow better grapes because they think they're dying.

"Personally, on the wine makers' side I want a smaller crop," adds Engelman, "I want those really nice grapes like we had last year."

Engelman says large wine growers like the ones in Napa Valley might have more of a problem with vines ripening early. He says it's because they need to buy grapes by the ton and it's going to cost growers a lot of money to find enough water to grow so many grapes.

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