SLO County Wineries News

Monday, May 9, 2011

April Frost Damage Coverage in Western Farm Press: "More than half of vineyard acreage in the Paso Robles area was damaged by frosts"

Western Farm Press recently published a detailed report on the April 8 - 10 frost that damaged vineyards throughout the Central Coast, right at bud break, and fried, to a brown crisp, the tender, young buds. The good news is, as of May 8, the "secondary and tertiary buds" mentioned below seem to be doing quite well on the north SLO County vines we observed.


  • California wine grape growers and vintners are tallying up the damage caused earlier this month when a bitter-cold Alaskan weather front slowly moved through a large chunk of the state’s Central Coast premium wine grape growing area.

    Damage is unquestionably extensive in the northern San Luis Obispo and Southern Monterey counties around Paso Robles, Calif., and north to the King City area where tender 2011 crop buds were fried from hours of mid-20 degree temperatures.

    Some vineyards may not have a crop to harvest this fall due to the April 8-10 frost.

    Vintners and growers from Solano to Santa Barbara counties are assessing the damage. Although the vines may push secondary buds to set a crop, Stacie Jacob, executive director of the Paso Robles Wine Alliance, reports growers are estimating the loss could range from 30 percent to 50 percent of the 2011 crop from the area’s 26,000 acres of vineyards.

    “Although the magnitude of the frost was widespread and prolonged, it is too soon to tell exactly what the loss will be. It all depends on what the secondary and tertiary buds do from now on,” she noted.

    Viticulture consultant Lowell Zelinski of Templeton, Calif., estimates that more than half of vineyard acreage in the Paso Robles area was damaged by frosts.

    “15,000 of the 26,000 acres in the area suffered some damage,” said Zelinski. “Right now I would estimate 25 percent of the total acreage suffered a 90 percent crop loss. Losses will be so heavy that it will not pay to harvest some vineyards.”

    “I have seen vineyards that look like they have been sprayed with paraquat. Buds are black. It is going to be bad.” Zelinski estimated only about half the vineyards in the Paso Robles area were covered by crop insurance when the frost hit.

  • Read the entire story at this link.