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‘It Looks Almost Like Ireland:' Bay Area Farmers Relieved After Rainy Winter

After five years of gripping drought followed by a rainy El Nino-fueled winter, Bay Area farmers are expressing a bit of relief — mixed with a heavy helping of caution.  

In the Livermore Valley, where vineyards abut cattle ranches, farmers were seeing signs the year’s roughly normal rainfall totals leave their mark.

“It almost looks like Ireland,” said Livermore wine grape grower Jim McGrail, looking out toward a patchy green field of grass. “We’re blessed that we had a great year this year with the rain, the water, the mud.”

Over the last few dry years, McGrail said the area’s reservoirs dropped to dangerously low levels.  But he said the winter rains helped the aqueducts finally begin to reverse their precipitous fall.

Joe Rosato Jr./NBC Bay Area
Livermore farmer Chris Ising stands in the middle of his pistachio orchard which is prospering following a winter of rain. May 13, 2016
Joe Rosato Jr./NBC Bay Area
Cattle take in a rain storm at Chris Ising's ranch in Livermore. Last year Ising sold off half of his cattle because of the drought. This year with the rains helping grow grass, he plans to expand the herd. May 13, 2016
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