WA State Experiencing Driest Winter Since 2000: How Will This Af - Spokane, North Idaho News & Weather KHQ.com

WA State Experiencing Driest Winter Since 2000: How Will This Affect Wine Growers?

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Arbor Crest Winery Arbor Crest Winery

SPOKANE, Wash. - The state of Washington is having its driest winter since 2000. Local wine growers here, however, are not worried about their crops.

"We're fortunate because most of our vineyards have good irrigation and the vines don't use a lot of water," said Jim van Loben Sels, who runs Spokane's Arbor Crest Wine Cellars. "When we come out of the spring, even if we don't have a lot of rainfall, we'll probably be looking pretty good."

In California, wine growers are facing extreme drought conditions in over 60% of the state and wine growers there are rightfully worried about their crops.

van Loben Sels explained that most farmers in Washington, however, "put their vines to bed" at the beginning of the winter so they are more fully irrigated and not as likely to be affected by a particularly dry winter.

And, since there is not usually excessive rainfall in Washington state, van Loben Sels is fairly confident his crops will fare well.

"For right now, we're confident with what happens in Washington, with already low rainfall, that we're going to have a great crop," he said.

In fact, when it is extra dry in the winter, van Loben Sels said wine growers sometimes produce higher quality wine for the spring season because the wine has less water and higher fruit concentrate.

van Loben Sels also said dealing with weather extremes is par for the course in the wine business.

"For the wine industry, it's mother nature, we're always dealing with the elements, you never know what hand you're going to be dealt, and you never know until the grapes come through the door," he said. "You just roll with it, and make the best wine you can."

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