IT WAS A BAD YEAR FOR WINE GROWERS
It may be that 2O11 is the year that the world of wine will forget. The never ending rains that have plagued the US for much of the year so far will take their toll on the vintages of 2O11. Unseasonably wet weather in Northern California is wreaking havoc with the region’s grapes. Area winemakers fear that the late-season precipitation could be, after a heat wave last year and a late-season frost in 2OO8, the third weather event in the last four years to zap local vineyards – and cause vintners no shortage of headaches. Certain varietals will be hit hardest. These include chardonnay and pinot noir, as they bloom earlier in the year. Warmer regions, where plants bloom first, like Dry Creek Valley and Alexander Valley, will also be hit hard. Typically in June vineyards are in a stage of bloom, but the self-pollination process that causes a vine to produce grapes was thrown off balance by the wetness. As a result of all the wetness, vineyards will produce fewer grapes, potentially costing winemakers in Sonoma County tens of millions of dollars. The wet weather also makes pollen spores soggy, hindering fertilization. A “cap” on the tip of the plant, which needs to pop off for the plant to pollinate, is also hindered by the wet weather.