Winemakers fear rot, hurry to harvest last of grapes

October 11, 2011 6:51:35 PM PDT
The sun was shining in wine country Tuesday, giving the grapes a chance to dry out after the early rain. But the weather is clearly affecting the crop that was already suffering from a slow growing season.

Wine growers are moving faster than usual to get the last of the grapes off the vine after the recent rains. Riesling and other white grapes don't do well with rain at this late date. Wet grapes mean rot is a reality and the grape growers are in a race against time to keep as much fruit as they can.

They're not panicking, but grapes for white wines retain moisture, unlike grapes for red wines which are in loser clusters and easily shed water, and that could cause irreparable damage.

John Conover of PlumpJack Winery came from a meeting of the Napa Valley Grape Growers. He says growers are actively responding to the weather.

This is a year when the industry has already been hit with a lower yield. Pinot noir was down 60 percent this year.