H-CENTRAL COAST

Oct 1, 2012 2:08 PM by Hope Hanselman, KSBY News

Hot temperatures affect wine grape harvest

Get ready for another triple-digit day for the interior valleys.

The rest of the Central Coast is going to be pretty hot as well.

This heat wave comes at the start of harvest season for grape growers, but depending on where crops are growing, this heat wave is going to be more or less of a problem.

We'll see the hottest temperatures in North San Luis Obispo County, but down South towards the inland areas, vintners may have less to worry about.

Jean-Pierre Wolff, vintner at Wolff Vineyards, says there is good and bad coming out of the hot temperatures.

"We're anticipating that the upcoming three days of heat wave will accelerate the ripening where at we'll be able to probably start picking in a week," he said.

Jean-Pierre has been keeping a close eye on the forecast, preparing his vines for rising temperatures.

"If you do have a heat wave and you don't have enough canopy or shade over the clusters, they literally can get sunburned."

But a sunburn isn't all he's worried about.

"When you start getting higher temperatures the vines shut down."

When the vines can't get enough moisture form the ground to hydrate the berries, they shrivel- which is not ideal for tasting.

"There's certainly a threshold of sensitivity of how much heat is too much," Jean-Pierre said.

The heat also raises the sugar levels in grapes, the acidity and the alcohol content, helping them to mature faster.

"So, in way, we're actually looking forward to getting a little bit of heat to get the sugar content to start moving up," he said.

So, if all goes to plan, Jean-Pierre will be harvesting Chardonnay in a few days- two weeks earlier than expected.

As the heat matures the grapes faster, some vintners say they may have to harvest more varietals at the same time. That could back up wineries processing the fruit.

They also say the grapes most sensitive to changes in temperature are pinot noirs. But, they say the bulk of those grapes have already been harvested on the Central Coast.

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