Lodi wine grape growers worry about harvest as smoke impacts region

Local News

LODI, Calif. (KTXL) — The smoke from the LNU Lightning Complex stretches from the Bay Area to San Joaquin County and it’s becoming a concern for wine grape growers in the Lodi region. 

“Smoke exposure, it’s still being studied and what exactly it could do, you know,” Amy Blagg, executive director of the Lodi District Grape Growers Association, told FOX40.

Blagg says there is concern the prolonged smoke exposure could affect the wine flavor or quality. But for now, local growers are only seeing secondary effects from the smoke. 

“It’s something that our growers will continue to watch. Working with the researchers and working with our wineries to see as far as testing needs to be done,” Blagg said. 

Growers are hoping firefighters can get the fires under control and that the Delta breezes blow the smoke away from the region’s crops. 

“Lodi wine grapes are one of the major drivers of San Joaquin County and California agriculture,” Blagg explains. “There’s over 100,000 acres of wine grapes planted in this region.” 

Their biggest concern is the heat that’s causing the grapes to ripen faster and is pushing up the harvest for some varietals. 

“The grape harvest season kind of has a natural progression. You start with your whites and move into your reds and it’s just kind of expediting that process,” Blagg said. “It’s just the matter of working with our wineries and hoping we can get that fruit off the vine and into the wineries as soon as possible.”

Between the pandemic, heat wave and now wildfires, it’s been one thing after another for wine growers. 

“We’re just hoping that we can get through the next two months and make it through this harvest season, which is what our growers work for all year,” Blagg said. 

Lodi growers say their hearts go out to their colleagues in Sonoma and Napa counties who are being directly impacted by the fires. 

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