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Drought Brings Earlier Start To California Grape Harvest

Krista Glavich / Vintners Association

Krista Glavich / Vintners Association

The drought gets the blame for an earlier than normal ripening of wine grapes in much of California.

Wine growers say the dry, hot weather is the reason the grape harvest throughout California will start a couple weeks or more earlier than normal. 

"We're probably looking about mid-August here for harvest to start, probably a little earlier than usual,” said Jennifer Pechette, executive director of the Amador Vintners Association in Plymouth.

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She said the harvest in Amador County typically starts in early-to-mid-September "Our growers and winemakers are looking really closely at the grapes right now, they're going out in the fields every day and checking them," said Pechette.

She said there are 50 wineries in Amador County.

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Pechette said the recent Sand Fire burned near several vineyards but there was no major crop damage. “We were very, very lucky,” she said.

Chik Brennenman is a winemaker and manages the campus vineyard at UC Davis. He said he typically harvests his grapes in mid-August but he will be bringing in some fruit this week.

Brennenman said even with the drought this year, rainfall in March and April helped saturate the soil, reducing use of irrigation water until later in the growing season.

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Ray Anderson / California Vitners Association

Map showing location of wineries in Amador and El Dorado counties, and smoke pattern from Sand Fire:

Map information: Amador Vinters Association and El Dorado Winery Association  


Ed Joyce

Former All Things Considered Anchor & Reporter

Ed Joyce is a former reporter and All Things Considered news anchor at Capital Public Radio. Ed is a veteran journalist with experience in a variety of news positions across all media platforms, including radio, television, web and print.   Read Full Bio 

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