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Heatwave jumpstarts growth at Central Coast wineries

Just a week and a half ago, it was raining. On Thursday, temperatures climbed into the 90s
Posted at 6:17 PM, Apr 07, 2022

This heatwave is kicking off an early growing season for some crops on the Central Coast.

Just a week and a half ago, it was raining. On Thursday, temperatures climbed into the 90s.

Growers say this is good for the wine industry but a late-season frost, while unlikely, could spell trouble.

Summer-like heat is kickstarting growth at vineyards in the Edna Valley.

"As far as the vines, they're going to start growing like weeds. They like the heat and they've been waiting for something like this," said Matthew Merrill, President of Mesa Vineyard Management Inc.

Clusters of wine grapes are already starting to form at Tolosa Winery.

Those grapes are now vulnerable to frost damage if the Central Coast sees another dramatic swing in temperatures.

"With the growth we've had, if we were to have very low temperatures, the plants would basically burn from the frost," said Fred Delivert, Winemaker at Tolosa Winery.

Sudden shifts in weather are also impacting strawberry growers in the Santa Maria Valley.

"Some of the varieties, we plant them at certain times, we've been doing that for years. Then and all of a sudden, the weather changes and it just throws everything out of whack," said George Chavez, Manager of LNG and DL Farms in Santa Maria.

Strawberry farmers are shifting their planting strategy with the weather.

Winemakers, meanwhile, are now hoping for the return of a wet pattern.

"We got a little bit of rain and it was beneficial but not enough to really make a huge difference," Merrill said.

"The best we could have as far as a vine's growth is consistency," Delivert said. "So what we want to avoid is extreme weather patterns. I hope for the most consistent weather we can have until the harvest."

Winemakers tell KSBY News that vineyards are seeing even more growth in the Santa Maria Valley.

A winemaker tells us that the Edna Valley can historically see a freeze as late as Mothers Day. However, it's unlikely that the freeze would be long enough to cause much damage.