Wine Importing and Marketing Services

California’s Rare Snow-Covered Vineyards Are a Treat for Some, Test for Others

Image Courtesy of Matt Kettmann

Snowboarding down the vineyard rows on Howell Mountain at CADE Estate. Skiing across the upper blocks at Thomas Fogarty Winery in the Santa Cruz Mountains. Making snowmen on the usually desert-like ridges that rise above the Santa Ynez Valley in Santa Barbara County.  

These are just some of the social media-shared scenes happening across California since last week when a cold, wet storm dropped inches of snow on places that very rarely see it across the Golden State. Blizzard warnings were triggered in many regions, even around stereotypically sunny Los Angeles.  

“We saw significant snowfall in the range of four to five inches in the vineyard—the biggest snowfall here in decades,” says Karl Wittstrom, the co-owner of Ancient Peaks Winery in Santa Margarita. “It was quite a sight. The last time it snowed in the vineyard was in 2008, and that was more of a light dusting that just lasted for a few hours.”  

Image Courtesy of Matt Kettmann

But how does this wild weather impact California’s vineyards? Though there have been weather-related hassles like traffic, road closures, fallen trees and other sorts of damage that can come from heavy downpours, the storm should actually spell goodwill in the vineyards, since bud break has not yet occurred.  

“We are actually very happy for the precipitation and the cold this time of year,” says Susan Krausz, owner of Arkenstone, located near the mountaintop town of Angwin north of Napa. “The rain and snow fills our aquifers, and the cold keeps the vines asleep until the appropriate time for them to wake up in the spring warmth.”