World’s worst wine disasters

California’s ‘historic’ three-year drought


California is currently in the grip of one of its worst droughts in recent history, a situation which has been steadily getting worse for the past three years. While the scale of the the state’s 2014 drought may not be fully realised, it is certain to have had a significant impact on the region’s winemakers.

As of Monday, the US Drought Monitor declared 81% of California to be classified as either D3 or D4, extreme to exceptional drought, the two highest categorisations. As a result of the three-year drought, California’s reservoirs are now short by more than one year’s worth of water, or 11.6 million acre-feet, compared to the average for this time of year. Governor Jerry Brown declared a state of emergency in January, calling on Californians to conserve water whenever possible.

Residents of California now face fines of up to $500 (£300) for watering their lawns, using sprinklers and washing their cars, while breweries have reported that the continued drought is affecting the amount of beer the state’s many craft breweries can produce – as demand continues to riseCoupled with recent wildfires throughout Napa, winemakers and brewers alike are facing an undoubtedly challenging period – the full effects of which are still unknown.

2 Responses to “World’s worst wine disasters”

  1. Ducourt says:

    1956, the extreme frost wiped out 80% of all vineyards between Bordeaux and Languedoc

  2. Richard Smart says:

    Who wrote this about phylloxera…So many mistakes.

    There are several books on the subject, and a fulsome entry in the Oxford Companion to wine.

    Phylloxera did not come close “to killing every vine on the European continent, and all of its grape varieties”. There are experimental vineyards in France, on sandy soils, still own-rooted.
    Phylloxera was reported in a London glasshouse, and did not “devastate British vineyards”, probably the majority of which, and there are many more now, remain free of phylloxera.

    Burying toads under vines, which might be praised today as “biodynamic”, was one of many bizarre solutions offered for prize money. The solution was to graft to resistant American rootstocks. Sadly the author of the article confuses this process with “hybridisation” which is a sexual crossing of two varieties.

    Phylloxera is controllable by grafting on resistant rootstocks, and many but not all vines are planted this way. The vineyards of Chile are free of phylloxera, as are the great majority in Australia.

    I have recently written an article suggesting that grapevine trunk diseases pose a greater threat to the worlds vineyard than phylloxera. If you are going to include vineyard pests and diseases in “the worlds worst wine disasters”, trunk diseases and maybe red blotch virus are major omissions.

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