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Snooth User: jescobio

California Water Shortage and Wine Output for 2014

Posted by jescobio, Jan 24.

So with the CA Governor asking for a 20% drop in water consumption and the predicted "100 year drought"....  I found this article:  

http://napavalleyregister.com/lifes...

I have a friend of mine who subsidizes his income through small sales off his own land in Bennett Valley... he said this year he will have zero yield.  Scary.

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Replies

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Reply by outthere, Jan 24.

It has rained once in the last 5 months that i can remember. The hills around here are usually bright green this time of year and they are summer brown. The Russian river today is flowing at 1.33' @ 88 cubic feet per sec. This date last year it was 5.17' @ 1,180cubic feet per sec. The river is basically dry. No salmon migration, wells are drying up. Some growers are considering no crop this year to protect their vines from being killed off due to no irrigation.  

No rain in sight in the long range forecast. We have had record high at least 10 times in January alone. Today as the first overcast skies in a month and it is a balmy 68 degrees. Not you typical Sonoma County Winter. Normal rainfall to date is 25" here in Forestville, so far this year since June 1st, 2.4"

this is the january 24 view on my way to work this morning...

 

 

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Reply by Richard Foxall, Jan 24.

Yes, it's pretty scary.  OT and I remember the drought of 75-77, but this feels a whole lot worse.  Bad combo of the existing climate change and a 10 year cycle that is particularly deep. 

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Reply by Richard Foxall, Jan 24.

As for the "no crop" possibility, luckily '12 and '13 were very good years and abundant, but not many growers or makers can afford to completely miss a vintage.

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Reply by napagirl68, Jan 24.

Very scary indeed.   The first thing I thought of was the poor grapes.

Someone I work with has cattle...   he says he has seen the cattle being brought by truckloads to slaughter because there is no grass growing for grazing, and hay/feed is expensive.  Watch CA produce prices go wild as well. 

Living in a Mediterranean climate, drought periods are to be expected, unfortunately.  It is worse because we are a very populous state, and one of the top produce growers.

As you remember the droughts, remember the floods- 1997 and 1995 stand out for me.  I can't remember which one it was, but the rain came later, and it was after a relatively dry fall.  I remember the flood waters lapping onto I-5 in the San Joaquin Valley, looking like you were driving over the Dumbarton!

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Reply by outthere, Jan 25.

I remember it as '95 and '98 but the '98 flood was due to torrential rains on December 31st '97 so we awoke in the new year to a flooded Russian River. The worst for Forestville was '95. Down stream in Guerneville the '86 flood was the all time worst.

For me it's too early to compare this years drought go that of the '70s because we are not even a year into this and the prior was nearly 3 years in length. The weather pattern could change and we could be back into a rainy season in a moments notice. Not seeing that change on the horizon is a bit disconcerting but I am a half full glass kinda guy.

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Reply by outthere, Jan 25.

Note, farmers who dry farm their grapes will have a normal crop this year. Old Vine St George rootstock, some of my favorite wines, will still produce. Irrigated vineyards will face a separate fate.

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Reply by dvogler, Jan 25.

I'm considering a humanitarian venture and getting tanker ships to fill up with fresh British Columbia water and bring it down for those poor grapes. I'm sure I'll face stiff opposition, as Canadians are very sensitive about the "water export" topic.

Seriously though...I actually lived in Redding for two years (89-90) and I remember Lake Shasta was about half-full.  Has this not happened before?

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Reply by jescobio, Jan 25.

Ill drive the ship down and help.  

Like Outthere said there are a lot of variables and it could change at the drop of a hat but most people are really predicting this could last a while.  State wide consumption drop by 20% is huge.  I know California typically over reacts to situations but this is looking bad.  There are a lot of smaller vineyards that wont financially survive a non vintage year.

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Reply by JonDerry, Jan 26.

That's a great thought Jes and Dvo...

Getting a kick starter campaign to get help with funding and rounding up more help would be a great thought. Also like the idea of helping out the smaller wineries most in need. I'm certainly up for helping.

Here's kickstarter's website: https://www.kickstarter.com/

 

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Reply by JenniferT, Jan 30.

LOVE Kickstarter! That's a great idea!

I came across this article earlier today....maybe you'll want to pour yourself a glass before reading it though.  :(

http://www.slate.com/blogs/future_tense/2014/01/30/california_s_exceptional_drought_won_t_get_better_any_time_soon.html

 

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Reply by dvogler, Jan 30.

I don't want to be negative, but there was a plan in the nineties to ship water to Santa Barbara from BC and the government quickly shut that down.

I am confident that Canada and British Columbia are not interested in opening that dialogue whatsoever.

I'm quite sure though, that if these patterns persist...it's inevitable that the United States will take whatever steps are necessary to guarantee a fresh water supply.

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Reply by outthere, Jan 30.

It's a drought. It's not the end of the world. We've been through them before and have survived just fine. We will get through this one as well without having to ship water from Canada.

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Reply by Richard Foxall, Jan 31.

Yeah, the doom and gloom is always worse than the reality.  For the residential consumer, there's not as much to squeeze as in the past.  Water saving toilets, showers and landscaping are already the norm.  However, the huge increase in golf courses suggests some serious savings, and I drove through one today that had seriously brown margins.  All the plaid-pants wearing silver hairs of Palm Springs can complain all they like, but they need to take a haircut now. 

True that at least some of the dry farmed vines will be okay--they adjust their yields naturally, too--but eventually that water table is going to go kaput, as Will Bucklin will tell you.  It'll be all at once and with no warning.  That said, I've been out in the hills lately and the spring-fed creeks are running, albeit at lower volumes, so the water table will get those St. George rooted vines through another year, if I had to guess.

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Reply by napagirl68, Jan 31.
Reply by outthere, 5 hours ago.

It's a drought. It's not the end of the world. We've been through them before and have survived just fine. We will get through this one as well without having to ship water from Canada.

My SECOND Amen to you...    you must be Jesus;-)

 

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Reply by Richard Foxall, Jan 31.

You mean all that Syrah he's pouring was water just a minute ago?

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Reply by JonDerry, Jan 31.

Hey, we got a few drops down here yesterday...I'm guessing nothing up there?

OT & NG, are you saying the world is not ending?! Thank you for the insight ; )

Good for the dry farmers, nice to hear folks doing things the right way will be rewarded. Gotta take what nature gives to some extent.

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Reply by napagirl68, Jan 31.

LOL, Foxy!

I guess this year it will be especially apropos to wear my "Save Water, Drink Wine" t-shirt. 

JD, no, I don't the the world is ending.  Last March, we got some pretty intense storms, some with huge hail.  So we need to wait and see.  Yesterday's "storm" did provide some rain, and cleaned the air, dampened the earth, but I don't think anything of value for the water supply.  

I am confused by "state officials".  In a few of the years past, when water levels were pretty high, and we were getting very decent rain, they were jarring on about drought.  I kept thinking, WTF?  I really didn't understand the drought talk when folks were buying sandbags and reservoirs in Los Gatos and Los Banos were as full as I have seen them in years.  I think we need more reservoirs and better storage capabilities. 

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Reply by Richard Foxall, Jan 31.

Better use of local rain water--like less pavement--wouldn't hurt.  With lots of pavement, parking lots, street, the water runs off into sewers to be treated then dumped into the bay, streams, lakes and oceans.  Why does that matter?  Because it doesn't recharge the water table at all.  Planting things that send down deep tap roots (the beauty of that St. George rootstock, which was also phylloxera resistant) is that it sends down deep tap roots.  Instead, we grow trees in yards with sprinklers that encourage surface roots... and on and on.  Also, for non-edible purposes, NO ONE should be allowed to use water from our mountain reservoirs.  All golf courses should be water neutral, using either grey water or natural rain (good luck with that, Palm Springs, and even Mission Viejo). 

Building reservoirs has huge impacts on the existing habitat and has to be done very judiciously. But reservoirs also eventually silt up, so they aren't eternal solutions in any case.  We've still got a way to go in conserving but as soon as this drought is over, I am sure that people will forget.

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Reply by JonDerry, Jan 31.

Good ideas here...

And fun to see Mission Viejo name-dropped, my city of birth.

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Reply by dvogler, Jan 31.

I think rain water recovery (and grey-water recovery) is something that should be promoted, especially in places like California.  It doesn't make sense to water lawns and wash cars with drinking water.  Here in Victoria (on Vancouver Island) we have a finite supply of drinking water and we've been through water restrictions too.  HEY!  Everybody enjoy some good wine tonight!

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