2011 A Very Bad Year for Wine

Winemakers are feeling the pinch this year as unseasonably wet weather makes it hard for grapes to produce.

Delaney Vineyards

Years from now at some fancy wine shop, don't expect to pay top dollar for the 2011 vintage.

If there is any for sale.

The wet weather in Northern California is wreaking havoc with the region's grapes, according to the Santa Rosa Press Democrat. Area winemakers fear that the late-season precipitation could be, after a heat wave last year and a late-season frost in 2008, the third weather event in the last four years to zap local vineyards -- and cause vintners no shortage of headaches.

Certain varietals will be hit hardest, the newspaper reported. These include chardonnay and pinot noir, as they bloom earlier in the year. Certain warmer regions, where plants bloom first, like Dry Creek Valley and Alexander Valley, will also be hit hard.

Right now vineyards are in a stage of bloom, but the self-pollination process that causes a vine to produce grapes is being thrown off balance by the wetness. If the rains continue in June -- which weather forecasters say could be a record-setting wet month -- vineyards will produce less grapes, in turn costing winemakers in Sonoma County "tens of millions of dollars," the newspaper reported.

The wet weather makes pollen spores soggy, hindering fertilization. A "cap" on the tip of the plant which needs to "pop off" for the plant to pollinate is also hindered by the wet weather.

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