LODI (CBS13) – It’s harvesting season at vineyards across the region, but the threat of rain is putting this year’s wine crop in jeopardy.
Before California wine can be bottled and shipped, farmers in San Joaquin County have to hit the fields.
“We’re harvesting Chardonnay grapes and of course they’re predicting some rain,” said grape farmer Joe Valente.
Monday night, Valente’s team felt the pressure to keep up the momentum.
“And basically what the machine will do is shake them right off,” Valente said.
Their biggest threat? Wet weather.
“What happens if we get a lot of rain, it could delay our sugars a little bit,” Valente said. “It could create a little bit of a rot but it really depends.”
He says cold and wind after the rain can also impact the crop.
Yet, some red grapes with thicker skins may withstand a downpour.
“There are so many factors, so all you can do is try to prepare for the best and hope for the best,” Valente said.
The team has 12 hours to pick hundreds of thousands of grapes. Just one ton can produce 750 bottles of wine.
“If we’re doing a hundred tons tonight, then we’re doing a lot of bottles of wine,” Valente said.
But even if the team rushes the harvest, wineries can only crush so much at a time.
So along with their scurry, they practice patience down the line.
“You know, people ask me about the weather and I always say you can’t change it – it’s all out of my control and you deal with what you’ve got,” Valente said.
Several other farmers say they’re not terribly concerned about the rain. As long as it’s not too heavy, they’ll continue their harvest as usual.