The number one question we get whether visiting a market or hosting visitors is “How is the drought affecting Croze?” “How will it affect your wine?” The easy answer is not at all, a little and a lot. Due to the uniqueness of the grapevines and the Napa growing area, each answer is multi-faceted and impacts the other…and future wine production.
Not at all. Unlike most other crops, grapes are very drought tolerant. It would take extended periods of high stress for grapevines to stop producing fruit. Napa has been very lucky in the last two years to get just enough rain—at the right time—to prevent the issues that other grape growing regions in California are experiencing. One of the positives, if there is a positive of the lack of is, due to the lack of rain the disease pressure from fungal and mold is almost nonexistent in the vineyards. So with the good comes the bad.
A little. Because of the dry periods, the vines are often producing smaller concentrated berries with thicker skins. The wines made from these grapes are often more fruit forward and higher in alcohol. We like to produce more elegant and balanced wines with a higher acidity so we at Croze, have to be very diligent in the vineyard as harvest approaches and adjust our harvest dates to obtain the optimal fruit. This creates a little more work and a little more stress on the winemaker.
A lot. The biggest issue is the planting of new vines. Because new vines have not begun to root in the soil, they are not very drought tolerant and need constant water. Many wineries have not planted new vines in the last several years due to cost of bringing in water and fears of more watering regulations. This isn’t much of an issue now but many wineries were counting on these vines for increased wine production in the next couple of years and they won’t be able to meet those projections. Lastly, what we foresee as the biggest challenge is just as the vines will not shut down immediately, they do not recover immediately. It will take several years of solid rain to recover from the current conditions.