How is the Drought Impacting Wine Grapes?

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LODI --

Finally some good news regarding the drought, especially for wine lovers.  The grapes in the Lodi wine-growing region are thriving, and there's a lot of buzz about the 2015 wine grapes.

Wine experts in the Lodi region say people have been asking them about the drought and how it is going to affect the 2015 varietals.

"The 2015 grapes are looking good," said Sunny Vasisht of the Weibel Family Vineyards Tasting Room.

Vasisht says the drought is actually helping concentrate the flavors right now in Lodi's wine grapes.

“So you’re going to get a lot more flavor coming through. The yields may not be as high, but the quality is definitely going to be impacted on the better side, for the betterment of the product as well” he said.

Vice President of Operations for Mohr-Fry Ranches Bruce Fry says growing wine grapes is a very complex thing.

He walked FOX40 deep into his family's century-old zinfandel vineyard, demonstrating the resiliency of the Lodi vines. Fry says the grapes appear to be ripening a few days ahead of normal this season. However, that's open to interpretation.

“There is no normal anymore, so you just deal with it.  I always compare it to the year before ... earlier or later than the year before,” Fry said.

His vineyard, like many in the area, is irrigated with an underground drip system using well water. It's a delicate balance -- making sure the roots get enough water to stay healthy while also trying to conserve because of the drought.

“We have to be careful what we’re doing, how we’re irrigating.  But we’re not in as dire straights as our farmer friends to the south,” Fry said.

And despite the drought, the rainy season provided exactly the type of rain these vines crave. When it rained, it rained hard, allowing the water to seep deep into the roots.

Bottom line -- wine connoisseurs have every reason to look forward to the 2015 vintage coming out of Lodi.

“So when you taste a bottle of wine in 2015, you can kind of taste what the weather was like that year, and how the growing conditions were in the flavors," Fry said.

“So far, the season’s going to be a good one," Vasisht said.

 

Fry says the only thing that could really hurt the grapes at this point would be a heavy downpour of summer rain.

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