Sunday, October 18, 2015

The Effects of Drought

The Effects of Drought in California

Will California's wine growers have a good wine year?

It is mid-October, and I am searching for fall colors in the Napa wine country.  Early in the morning, I expected sun filtering through the mist over the fields of vine stock.   

Fall colors

Instead the sun rose to a crystal clear day, it is already quite warm with mid-day temperatures expected in the upper 80ties F.  It is a beautiful day for cruising and I enjoy the quiet of ‘hinterland’ away from the busy highways in the Napa and Sonoma valley.  But for the wine makers, these hot days seem to be detrimental to the harvest.

Stopping at a field expecting the grapes either already harvested or ripe and plumb to be picked, I was saddened by so many fields that were neither.  The grapes had shriveled on the stock never to be picked.  

In another field, the red grapes are still hanging from the vines.  However,  most of them are not plumb and full of juice but look dried out.

The leaves on the vines look dried and most of them have gone from green to brown, few sport the beautiful fall colors of red and yellow seen in other years.

Shriveled up before harvest?

Few grapes looked like this!

Drought – yes, we all have heard much talk and have read many stories how the lack of water is effecting the agribusiness in our State.  But seeing the devastating effect I wonder whether the year of 2015 will be remembered as a year in which the crop did not yield a stellar wine for the Napa and Sonoma – or for all of the California’s -  wine makers?

Four years of drought have left us wondering what will happen if the rains don’t come this winter.  The warming ocean at our Pacific coast have brought anchovies much further north than they ever were and with it we enjoyed humpback whales and even a blue whale feeding in our waters.  There is much hope that the warmer ocean temperatures will have the effect that is called ‘El Nino’ that in the past has brought a very wet winters.  This year we all are hoping for ‘El Nino’ to work as expected and we are hoping for rain.

For my readers in colder wetter climates, this must sound strange to hope for wet weather, but we need it or otherwise our communities, our State is in deep trouble next summer if the drought continues.  California’s agriculture is producing much fruit and vegetable that feeds the Nation.  The State is the prime almond producer for the world.   Our water comes from as far away as the Sierra Nevada from the snow pack in the winter.  During the last winters, the snow pack was far below average and our water reservoirs are frightfully empty.

So not only for the wine makers but for all of us in California, we are hoping for rain so that the next year’s crop of wine will be plentiful again.

Storybook Bear by Jared Lloyd, Wildlife Photographer

Before I go, I want to share with you a wonderful story written by biologist and wildlife photographer Jared Lloyd.  I have traveled with Jared and learned so much from him: not only many tips of making better images but also about the environment where to find wildlife.  As a biologist he researches the locations where wildlife is typically found but also knows what their food is during the various seasons of the year.  With that knowledge, targeting areas where food sources are plentiful will give the wildlife photographer a much better chance to see and capture great images. 
Jared is also a great story teller:  In one of his recent blogs, Jared describes a wonderful encounter with a bear sow and her cubs.  Observing this bear mom and her cubs play, Jared gives us a deep understanding into the lives of wildlife and nature as you read the unexpected outcome of this encounter.  I so agree with Jared that we as humans are not the only beings that have feelings, experience joy and grief as has been documented for elephants and orcas.  Having just been in Yellowstone with Jared in search of bears, how I would have liked to encounter what he describes so eloquently.  I share this story with you, my readers, since I know that many of you will never have the opportunity to be out in nature with the wonderful wildlife to experience it for yourself.  Jared's story may help you see another side of our environment that is precious and needs all our help or preservation.

Please click here to read Jared's Storybook Bear: 


Til next time,