UC Davis works to help wine industry overcome drought conditions

Local News

ACAMPO, Calif. (KTXL) – Susan Tipton likes to talk about her award-winning wines produced at Acquiesce Winery in Acampo just outside Lodi, but these days she keeps a close watch on the current drought conditions as well. 

Tipton took a big hit last year when winter rains didn’t materialize. 

“We actually had a 25% reduction in cropload,” she told FOX40.

That 25% amounts to around a $300,000 loss for the boutique winery that specializes in rare white wine varietals. 

Coming into 2021, the vines were watered early with well water, and groundcover crops are used to retain water. 

But the water table in the area is dropping, adding to Tipton’s concern. 

“The aquifer that we all pump our water from is not going to be filled back up, so fingers crossed we get a better snowpack up in the mountains next year,” she explained.

Tipton said she fears recent trends may mean smaller yields. 

“And I think we’ll see that going forward; that we’ll be getting less wine,” she said.

The long-term future of wineries and vineyards in California may very well depend on the research being done by UC Davis at the Acquiesce Vineyards, which will be planting an acre of several hundred varieties of vine rootstocks. 

“See what vines do the best, and it’s basically proactive,” Tipton said. “Maybe we don’t need them right now but in ten years we might start losing some vines. So, that way we will know which vines we will be able to plant.”

Such research is yet another tool that the wine industry can use if the trend toward a warmer, drier climate continues. 

The UC Davis experiment will also look at vine performance in different parts of the world under different soil and climate conditions to identify the hardiest varieties.

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