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California growers face frost and water shortage

April frosts have caused widespread damage to vines in northern California, and water shortage is hampering the use of sprinklers to protect them.

As overnight temperatures hovered near or below freezing during the past month, some growers estimate the damage may cut yields by 20% this year.

‘This is the worst we’ve seen in a number of years,’ said Mendocino County vintner Greg Graziano. ‘Carneros got hit really bad, but I think it was all over California.’

The most vulnerable vineyards are those that lack overhead water sprinklers to protect vines when temperatures dip below freezing, and some with sprinklers may have exhausted their water supply for the entire season.

While Kendall-Jackson reportedly has not suffered very much, spokesman George Rose said the company’s sprinklers ‘have kicked into high gear’ in the last week.

‘What concerns us is the continued use of water from our reservoirs,’ said Rose.

‘Though we had an above average rainy season, we have not had any measurable precipitation since January or early February.’

Andy Beckstoffer of Beckstoffer Vineyards said , ‘I can’t remember a frost of this severity since 1972.’

Beckstoffer is still evaluating damage to vineyards in Napa, Lake and Mendocino Counties.

Written by Tim Teichgraeber

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