Historic Drought Hurts Dry Farmed Vineyards in California


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Bill Wathen brings us back to Tinaquaic Vineyard in the Santa Maria Valley, where a historic drought in California is hindering fruit growth. The possibility of extremely low yields brings up the concern of not making enough wine in 2014 to cover the cost of farming the Tinaquaic Vineyard.

BILL WATHEN
Actually when you, you look at this side of the vineyard, you actually see some fruit.

WIL FERNANDEZ
Is this deceiving?

BILL WATHEN
Yeah, it is because the roots are deeper in this corner right here because of all this alluvial sand that’s come down over the ages here. So it’s real sandy here, and then as soon as you get up over that little hump there, it gets clay, and the vines are really struggling. See, we’ve got véraison here. You can see where it’s turning soft here. You know, and this stuff is alright, it’s going to make it, but then you start getting into here, and you know, this isn’t going to make any juice at all.

WIL FERNANDEZ
Yeah, those are pretty small.

BILL WATHEN
Yeah, but I think we can come in here and do, pull the net on a vine-to-vine basis. So yes, no, yes, yes, yes, yes, no, no, no, no, no. Because this, this whole hump right here, there’s not going to be anything here. You can see.

WIL FERNANDEZ
It’s pretty sparse.

BILL WATHEN
It’s pretty sparse. The good thing is, we have enough wood for next year to do a couple of canes, so.

WIL FERNANDEZ
So if you get rain, it’ll be…?

BILL WATHEN
Yeah. Yeah, it’ll be alright. So you know, but historically you know, you, you need to, you need some juice to remember this. Right?

WIL FERNANDEZ
Yeah, yeah.

BILL WATHEN
Yeah, so. There’s going to be probably enough for that.

WIL FERNANDEZ
To have a little library wine?

BILL WATHEN
Yeah, to have some library stuff.

WIL FERNANDEZ
Yeah.

BILL WATHEN
But you know, every time I send a crew up here, it’s just costing us so much money because there’s nothing up here.

WIL FERNANDEZ
Yeah.

BILL WATHEN
That’s getting there.

WIL FERNANDEZ
Oh, yeah.

BILL WATHEN
Yeah.

WIL FERNANDEZ
Wow. So there won’t be any 2014 10:00 chardonnay available.

BILL WATHEN
Possibly, but you know, there’s just, we can’t sell it for what it’s worth.

WIL FERNANDEZ
Right, right, right. Yeah. Yeah.

BILL WATHEN
Because of the historic drought, and no irrigation here in this vineyard, it’s just, it, it’s really suffered. And right now, the yields have got to a point where it’s unfeasible to farm it anymore. And so, do we pull the plug? Well. Or do you just go for it, and you know, make a historic wine off the worse drought ever in California history, off this dry farm vineyard, and just bite the bullet?

WIL FERNANDEZ
Yeah. I hope everybody appreciates the wine

BILL WATHEN
Yeah.