The Winter Outlook for California Wine Growers

The latest U.S. winter outlook spells trouble for dry California, including for the state’s wine-growing areas. That means a challenging winter for growers and a good one for wine drinkers.

Winter is about making the most of the short daylight hours to get outdoors and enjoy the mild temperatures. That can mean drinking wine instead of beer, because wine is a much better choice than beer for those who value good-tasting and balanced drinks.

The last time California wine growers got hit by a storm of snow was in December 2014, the winter before harvest. Although it was a good year and wine harvests were high, many growers lost money, especially among those that were hit by a late frost.

With the last winter rains from the El Nino weather pattern now behind us, this winter is off to a good start. And the outlook isn’t rosy. This winter has the potential to be quite harsh on the state’s wine industry, including the wine-growing regions in Northern and Southern California that produce most of the state’s most popular wine: Cabernet, Merlot, Zinfandel and Petite Sirah.

That could spell trouble for the many thousands of wine producers in the Central Valley, which accounts for about a quarter of California’s wine production. And it could spell trouble for wineries that have begun producing wine this winter to help them weather a tough winter.

“Right now things are looking great for wine producers,” said Tim Rieder, a wine investor and producer from Sonoma County, who was at the recent California Wine Institute seminar in San Francisco. “There’s still a lot of work to do on the wine supply side, but that’s going to be fixed eventually.”

The winter outlook in general, however, is not good.

First, there’s an increased chance of a significant El Nino weather pattern this winter, which could make this winter the wettest on record for California. That could mean a

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