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Viticulture,Wine

The Weather’s Gorgeous, and That’s Not Good

When would I have ever thought I’d write something like, “The weather’s gorgeous, and that’s not good.” That’s the reality of living in the desert, more than global warming, I’m thinking. Don’t get me wrong, I do believe in global warming trends, I just don’t think this is the first, nor will it be the last, time California has faced a water shortage.

When I first moved out here, I had come from Maine on December 29, 1992 (my personal day from hell). As we rode from the San Francisco Airport to Windsor, we must have seen three to four rainbows. I took it as a great sign, and the only high points of that day, while moving across country with my husband, two kids, three cats, and our black lab. What a mess!

People on the bus were all elated, because of the rain. I didn’t understand. Where I had come from, it was below zero. It wouldn’t begin to really get warm until June. There were several years that during the entire month of June – after waiting for nine months to get any real heat again – it would rain the entire month, and this happened more than one June in my life as a Maine-ah!

“What’s their fascination?” I thought. But, after living here for 15 yeas, it has begun to sink in… Rain is good, because we’re living in a desert. It’s that simple.

When I walked Kick Ranch with Dick Keenan, he took me up to his reservoir. After a normal winter, this reservoir should be full. If you look at this image, you’ll see the severity of what California is facing, in terms of a water shortage.

As of this writing for this year, only 7.28 inches of rain has fallen in Santa Rosa, as compared to an average of 16.21 inches.

According to a Santa Rosa Press Democrat story entitled, Mandatory Water Cutbacks Expected by Bob Norberg and Glenda Anderson, “‘Unless the weather changes substantially and we get a lot of rain, we are looking at potentially mandatory conservation this summer,’ said Pam Jeane, Sonoma County Water Agency’s deputy director of water operations.”

The story continues, “Sean White, general manager of the Russian River Flood Control and Water Conservation Improvement District, said it’s too early to panic, but warns Lake Mendocino is lower than it was at this time in 1977, the worst drought year on record.”

I repeat… The weather’s gorgeous, and that’s not good…. In fact, it’s pretty serious. Wildfires this year could be pretty awful. I imagine that this impacts the economy of us all. Do insurance companies raise rates regionally, or do they spread it out over the entire country in small increments? It seems logical that they’d do that, but would they ever tell us about it? Does someone in Iowa, for instance, pay a few dollars more, because it’s spread all around? Seems like this is how they’d do it, so prices don’t got through the roof in one region, making it impossible to live there.

I’m going out to do a rain dance. How about you?

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3 Responses to “The Weather’s Gorgeous, and That’s Not Good”

  1. mydailywine says:

    Yes, if the dry weather continues we might have some more ‘smoky’ grapes all over, like Mendocino had to contend with last year.
    I live in CA too. Happily, we are expecting rain in SoCal this week.

  2. Jo says:

    I just returned from a wine tasting of 2008 vintage wines. It was a bit too easy for me to detect last year’s fires in Northern California wine. (Today’s Tuesday, Feb. 3, 2009.)

    It’s going to be fascinating to see how this extra flavor’s removed from wines that now have this additional component in their flavor profile.

    I used to wonder where it was headed. Now I have the answer, so the rain dance is more important than ever.

    Tomorrow’s supposed to bring some rain. Yahoo! (I never thought I’d say, “Yahoo!” to rain.)

  3. Dennis says:

    Jo in addition to the rain issue is early budding – at the extreme southern end of California’s wine grape growing region(s) – Ramona Valley AVA near San Diego, CA – repeated waves of 70F-80F Santa Anas are making tourists and sun lovers happy but we typically get 1/3 of our annual rainfall in January – not so this year. With the unusually high temperatures, some of the vines are trying to bud in January (!) several months earlier than normal. Hopefully no early spring frosts.

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