California Drought Perk: Better Wine

A vintage 'for the ages': winemaker
By Matt Cantor,  Newser Staff
Posted Oct 11, 2014 3:39 PM CDT
California Drought Perk: Better Wine
In this photo taken Friday, Aug. 29, 2014, Pinot Noir grapes just picked from the Lee Vineyard are shown in a bin on the first day of harvest at Saintsbury winery in Napa, Calif.   (AP Photo/Eric Risberg)

The long drought in California is, of course, bad news for most in the agriculture business—but winemakers are seeing some real benefits. The lack of rain is actually leading to some of the best wine Napa and Sonoma counties have seen in a while, the Wall Street Journal reports. There are a number of perks to the dryer weather: First, less water means smaller grapes, and that concentrates the flavor, notes a vineyard president. Then there's the fact that a lot of rain can mean moldy grapes. On top of that, the sun is making grapes riper earlier, and that allows a harvest before the threat of autumn storms.

"This year’s vintage could be one for the ages," says a Pinot Noir specialist. Some drought-era results are already in: Cabernet Sauvignons from 2012 and 2013 managed a score of 96 in a consumer guide, whereas 2011's versions scored just 78—and that was a rainy year. Last year's sales also hit a record $23.1 billion. But that doesn't mean winemakers want the drought much longer: They face threats like salty soil, the Journal notes, while the Sacramento Bee reports that it takes at least a few gallons of water to make one glass of wine. "Too much rain will be as bad as too little rain," says the Pinot specialist. (If California wine isn't a favorite, maybe some of King David's wine will do?)

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