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El NiƱo Impact on Vineyards
January 1st, 2016
Peggy Fiandaca
No, we are not meteorologists but we could probably play one on television! Just grape farmers trying to deliver the highest quality grapes in a world of complete uncertainty where Mother Nature can throw just about everything she has at you. But still somehow we persevere. Watching the latest storm roll in from California dumping much needed rain in the west, we contemplate the past weather year and project about an interesting upcoming growing season.

Last year was an almost ideal weather year for LDV Winery in southeastern Arizona. No late frost, July rains, and a drier than normal late summer and fall that was really welcome during final ripening and harvest. As it appears the much anticipated El Niño weather pattern has arrived, what does that mean for our vineyard?   LDV Winery

The last major El Niño in 1997-98 had a devastating impact on California’s wine industry. Of course, we were not around then but many of the vineyards in California were so waterlogged all summer the grapes did not ripen properly and in general, were poor quality. The 1998 wines resulting from these grapes were widely panned as some of the worst made in decades. We tasted wines from some of the best producers and some were just plain ghastly!

Fortunately, we don’t anticipate having any problems from above average precipitation this winter and spring. Because of our rocky volcanic soils and the slope of the vineyard, we get tremendous drainage. And since we drip irrigate our vineyard and can control the water throughout, if the ground is wet, we just don’t water it! The heat and sun of May and June will certainly erase any effects of El Niño, so let it rain!