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Bay Area winemakers are keeping a close eye on vineyards amid a rare winter heat wave and warm weather


LIVERMORE, Calif. (KGO) — As the unusually warm weather continues, Bay Area winemakers are keeping a close eye on their vineyards.

“I believe every year is random, you get the hand that’s dealt to you. It’s definitely different from last year and the year before,” Phil Wente of Wente Vineyards told Livermore.

Wente is reacting to the recent hot weather we’ve seen here in the Bay Area and the impact it could have on vineyards.

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“It’s rare that we see a month of January without rain. To see a month of January, February and March without rain would be unprecedented. I’m sure we will have rain in March,” Wente said.

While some might worry about the lack of rain ahead and the fear of frosts at the end of the month, Wente is optimistic, and so are others.

“That one rainstorm in October basically filled all of our reservoirs halfway in one storm in three days. And then by the end of the year, December 31, they were all overflowing,” explains Alec Roser of Advanced Viticulture. Roser says every year has its unique challenges, but because of last year’s late rain, we’re in much better shape now compared to 2021.

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“We kinda joke about what’s normal, none of us know that. We don’t have a normal growing season and we have to adapt to a number of things. If it’s not dry we’ll have If we’re not having fires, we have these thunderstorms,” Roser says.

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“We’re all on pins and needles to some degree, aren’t we? Every year it seems like we always pray for rain, so let’s pray for rain and no frost,” Wente says.

Roser says that although we have seen six dry weeks, soil moisture levels are now higher than they were at this time last year and that is promising news. He says they had to deal with a few early bud breaks from some of the young vines, one of the reasons they work so hard to finish pruning as quickly as possible. Roser, however, thinks the mature vines are still 3-4 weeks away from budburst.

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