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Calif. Winemakers Worried About Drought Conditions

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textalerts180 Calif. Winemakers Worried About Drought Conditions

TEMECULA (CBSLA.com) — California winemakers are worried about the statewide drought conditions.

Bill Wilson, the owner of Wilson Creek Winery in Temecula, told CBS2’s Tom Wait that he is trying to keep his grapevines happy in the midst of one of the driest years on record.

“It’s unheard of. That’s part of the drought. Our creek zone is dry,” he said. “We’re irrigating for the first time in 15 years that I’m aware of since 1996 that we’ve actually irrigated in January.”

Wait reports that while vineyard owners can irrigate their crop, it’s not the same as getting help from Mother Nature.

“This is actually the same as your drinking water, it’s fluoride-treated, it’s high salt, it’s not your natural Mother Nature. And Mother Nature, you want it to flush out the salts that we do irrigate because we get all our rain when they’re sleeping,” Wilson said.

Wilson and other winery owners are studying innovative ways to conserve and maximize the water they do have.

“In Southern California, water is one of, if not the most precious commodities. It’s gonna be even more so if this continues,” Wilson said.

Wilson said he’s also concerned the grapes will come in early because of the unseasonal weather.

“We’re waiting for it to get really cold so they don’t come out too early. With this weather, they’ll think this is spring and they’ll start coming out in February, and then we have the freezes in March and that’s where we could lose 50 percent of the crop, if not more, overnight,” Wilson said.

Wilson, however, said there’s a benefit to the nice weather—when it’s warm out, people like to taste wine.

“The people that are here from Boston and Canada and Minnesota and Detroit, getting out of the cold, they come here and there is 85 degree weather, and [they] go, ‘Woo hoo!,’” he said.

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