'Let's pray for rain and no frost': Winemakers keeping eye on vineyards amid rare winter heat wave

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Saturday, February 12, 2022
Winemakers keeping eye on vineyards amid rare winter heat wave
As a rare winter Bay Area heat wave continues, winemakers are closely watching their vineyards and remain optimistic for the lack of rain.

LIVERMORE, Calif. (KGO) -- As the unseasonably warm weather continues, Bay Area winemakers are closely watching their vineyards.

"I'm a believer that every year is random, you get dealt the hand that you get dealt. This is certainly different than last year and the year before," says Phil Wente of Wente Vineyards in Livermore.

Wente is reacting to the recent warm weather we've seen here in the Bay Area and the impact it could have on vineyards.

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"It's rare that we see a January without rain. To see a January, February and March without rain would be unprecedented. I'm sure we'll get rain in March," says Wente.

While some might be concerned about a lack of upcoming rain and fear of frosts at the end of the month, Wente is optimistic, and others are too.

"That rain storm alone in October filled predominately all of our reservoirs halfway in just one storm in three days. And then by the end of the year, December 31, they were all going into overflow," says Alec Roser of Advanced Viticulture. Roser says every year has it's unique challenges but because of that late rain last year, we're in much better shape now in comparison to 2021.

RELATED: Warmer winter temperatures causing increased risk of earlier Bay Area wildfire season

"We kind of joke about what's normal anymore, none of us know. We don't have a normal growing season and we have to adapt to a number of things. If it's not dry conditions, we're getting fires. If we're not getting fires, we're having those thunderstorms," says Roser.

RELATED: 'We no longer have a fire season - we have a fire year,' SoCal fire chief says

A brush fire burning near Laguna Beach has burned 150 acres and is 10% contained, officials said Thursday afternoon.

"We're all on pins and needles to a certain extent right? Every year it seems like we're always praying for rain, so let's pray for rain and no frost," says Wente.

Roser says that while we have seen a dry six weeks, soil moisture levels are higher now than they were last year at this time and that is promising news. He says that they have dealt with a few early bud breaks from some of the younger vines, one of the reasons they're working so hard to finish pruning as quickly as possible. Roser though believes the mature vines are still 3-4 weeks out from bud breaks.