“We haven’t seen any significant problems yet,” says Neil Roberts, viticulturist, Roberts Vineyard Services, Paso Robles, Calif. “We’ve had a few frost scares, but for the most part I think we’re okay.”
Central Coast growers rely on well water and generally the wells are in good shape. But, there are concerns about salt buildup from well water.
“You can’t apply enough well water through a drip system to leach salts,” says Lowell Zelinski, president of Precision Ag, Inc., Templeton, Calif. “That’s where rainfall plays a critical role — we need at least 20 inches. So far, we’re hovering at around 10 inches.”
Growers packed the recent Irrigation Management Workshop at Vina Robles Winery at Paso Robles, Calif., to hear speakers’ opinions on managing vineyards in a drought year.
“We’re probably about 60 percent of normal at this point,” Roberts says. “The key moving forward will be to irrigate more efficiently. Even though we have adequate well water available now, that doesn’t mean we’ll always have it.
“We’re going to see more and more pressure on our water supply as the population expands. We need take advantage of technology to know exactly when to put water on and where to put it, and we need to start that process sooner rather than later.”