Interesting Risks To Grapes In California Vineyards

Despite California’s enviable weather and an amazing variety of terrain and people, our crops are sometimes in danger from a variety of threats. If you own or invest in a California vineyard, this can be particularly concerning. What are the risks to grapes in California that vineyard owners should be prepared for and carry insurance for wineries protection?

How Does Wildfire Smoke Has Affected Vineyards Lately?

The gradual increasing temperatures on Earth have led to record numbers of wildfires in California in recent years. So far, in the first two months of 2022, over 5,000 acres of California have burned in wildfires. Cal Fire reports that in 2021:

  1. 2,568,948 acres burned in wildfires across the state 
  2. There were 8,835 wildfire “incidents”
  3. 3,692 structures were damaged during these fires

For 2020, Cal Fire reports these numbers:

  1. 4,304,379 acres burned in wildfires across the state
  2. There were 8,648 wildfire “incidents”
  3. 11,116 structures were damaged during these fires

For 2019, Cal Fire reports these numbers:

  1. 259,823 acres burned in wildfires across the state
  2. There were 7,860 wildfire “incidents”
  3. 732 structures were damaged during these fires

How do the wildfires affect grape crops? The smoke from the fires makes the grapes have a smoky flavor, which is not the desired quality in a bottle of wine. In fact, smoke can make wine undrinkable, unsellable, and ultimately useless.

Drought: An Important Factor in California Vineyards Wildfires

Directly linked to why California has been having so many wildfires in recent years is the record number of droughts. California has been undergoing some degree of drought since 2013. So far, 2022 is the second driest year in recorded California weather history (dating back 128 years). Over 37 million Californians are impacted by the current drought conditions. 100% of the state is experiencing moderate drought conditions. 69% (mostly the central and northern portions) are suffering from severe drought conditions, and 7% of the state is experiencing extreme drought conditions. 

Here is a close-up look at Napa County:

  1. 136,484 people in Napa are being impacted by drought conditions (100% of the population)
  2. January 2022 was the 8th-driest January in the past 128 years (over six inches of rain less than normal)
  3. Napa is located in the 7% of the state currently experiencing extreme drought conditions 

California's central valley has been forced to pump so much water from underground that the aquifers are running dangerously low. The state has never had to regulate the use of our underground water, but now measures are taking shape to limit what vineyards and farms can extract from the aquifer.

Last but Not Less Important: Labor Shortages

California is consistently experiencing a shortage of farmworkers to pick crops. Their work is essential to California’s economy and the safety of our wine industry. So for grapes that survive the extreme drought conditions and may taste like smoke, it’s not even a guarantee that they can be harvested. Additionally, no one knows when the next migrant farmer worker strike could happen.

Need Insurance for Wineries and Distilleries?

The very best way to protect your vineyard or distillery from these threats is with specialized coverage from FACE Insurance. Find out more today by reaching out to us. We can explain how our specialized policies can help save your crop.