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California Winemakers Feel Crush Of Prolonged Heat Wave

SACRAMENTO COUNTY (CBS13) — The extreme heat wave around the Sacramento region has some wine growers on edge.
They say the high heat isn't good for the vineyards or their barrel rooms.

"This is a Pinot Noir vine with some over exposed fruit."

Walnut Grove wine grower Joe Salman is feeling the squeeze from the heat wave.

"It's just something you end up picking around and probably throw on the ground before harvest," Joe said.

Joe says the sizzling hot temperature can damage grapes in the vineyard and spoil wine that's been stored in barrels.

"We have decided to irrigate ahead to keep the vines happy and hydrated," added Joe.

He is one step ahead of the heat this year, keeping his vineyard hydrated more often so the scorching sun doesn't suck them dry.

"I haven't seen a wave like this last as long," Joe said.

Winemakers have been working earlier over the past week to beat the high heat, and they're not just worried about the vineyards.

"We try to keep everything closed to try to minimize work this week in here because that can have an effect as well," said Joseph Smith, a winemaker for Klinker Brick Winery.

If the barrel room isn't consistently 60 degrees or below, Smith says "you could have sugar deficiency because of this high heat, this is what we have to battle."

Smith also says it's key to have a humidifier in a barrel room to keep the barrels hydrated so the wine doesn't ferment too early.

An industry where a wine grower's decision can have an effect for years to come, taking chances isn't an option.

"You can't let something like this end your season."

The impact of this heat wave on local vineyards will be tasted in the next two years when grapes from the field make it into your wine glass.

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