Drought Effect on the Production of Viticulture in Paso Robles
Paso Robles is widely known as the land of grapes where vines are grown and cultivated. Paso Robles primarily serves as a home to more than 200 wineries and 40,000 vineyard acres. In essence, Paso Robles is renowned as an avenue for premium wine production. As such, the area is characterized by distinct but ideal microclimates that catalyze the growth and production of vines. Also, the vast land is described with some of the best soil types which support the growth of over 40 species of vine trees. Ever since the heydays after Paso Robles has been referred as the wild west of California just because the land serves as the foundation for the growth and production of a wide array of wine blends. The diverse wine blends produced has led to distinct wine categories namely; Innovative blends, Rhone Blends, Cal-Italians, Cabernet Sauvignon, and Zinfandel.
The primary objective of this paper is to examine and analyze the effects of drought and high precipitation on the quality and quantity of grapes produced by grapevine plantation within Paso Robles locality.
Grapevine is one of the oldest cultivated plants that have been utilized in the process of making wine. The term wine grape is scientifically referred as plants of botanical genus Vitis and from a commercial vine plant species known as, vinifera (Robinson, 2015, p.187).Grapes have been used as man’s source of food ever since the ancient of days. In fact, the production of grapes dates back to the early days of man. The grape production culture first began in Asia Minor before being adopted by the North and South Americans (Dougherty, 2012, p.15). The idea of viticulture was first brought up in California in the year 1697. Since then, people have commercialized viticulture as a platform for wine production. Paso Robles American Viticulture was first established in the year 1983 after which the area was expanded in the year 1997 and 2009 (Dougherty, 2012, p.15). Paso Robles American Viticulture Area is described as a large, diverse appellation located at the Centre of California’s central coast which is halfway between Los Angeles and San Francisco (Weaver, 1976, p.1).
Climate and Soil
Paso Robles soil and climatic conditions provide a suitable environment for the growth and cultivation of grapes. The average growing season for the growth and cultivation of grapevine is approximately 170 to 190 days. Climatic condition is thereby an integral aspect the influences and determines the growth patterns of the grapevine. Grapes are known to thrive in warm, temperate zone that is between 34º North and 49 ºSouth latitude Dougherty, 2012, p.33). Vinifera grape thrives in areas having long warm to hot, dry summers and cool winters. Additionally, the growth of the vine’s root is propelled when the topsoil warms to approximately 10º C condition (Jaleel et al., 2009, p. 29). The climatic condition suitable for the growth of grapes usually tends to vary depending on the specific stages of their growth. During the blooming stage, high levels of insulation would promote the process of flowering and tissue differentiation (Dougherty, 2012, p.25). However, during the stage of ripening, the level of insulation would act as a determinant of the fruit’s sugar levels. Therefore, spring temperatures are critical in the breaking of dormancy to a flowering of the grapevine. Also, grapevines are known to thrive under the temperate climate that entails warm, dry summers and mild winters. Paso Robles is considered to have the best diurnal temperatures supporting the growth off over 40 grapevine varieties. Moreover, Paso Robles is endowed with optimal growing conditions that result in the production of premium and ultra-premium wines (Christensen, 2015, p. 86).
Among the factors that contribute to the optimal conditions for grapevine growth within Paso Robles is good soil. Paso Robles is blessed with diverse soils that promote sprouting and growth of a myriad of grapevine varieties. The availability of diverse soil types in Paso Robles is supported by the fact that most grapevine varieties can thrive in almost every type of soil. The soil types may range from shallow to very deep soil and sandy to loamy soils. However, certain types of soils such as poorly drained soil, very shallow soils and soils with relatively high concentrations of toxic materials are detrimental to the growth of the grapevines (Bakker & Clarke, 2011, p.102).
The adverse effect of drought
Grapevine growth and development is mainly driven by two significant parameters namely; temperature and precipitation. Prolonged high temperature remains a threat to the progressive growth of grapevine. The dramatic climatic changes interfere with the normal growth of grapevine thus reducing the total production yield. Drought is known to emanate some negative effects on the growing grapevine plant as it limits the plants’ root growth while also hindering bud development. The extremely high temperatures also result in the reduction in nutrient and water uptake by the plant. Both the plant size and the size of the berries are gravely affected as a result of water stress caused by drought condition (Jaleel et al.,2009). During the drought period, the process of respiration is halted due to the closure of the plants’ stomata. The inability of the plant to respire results to the harvested grapefruits having elevated acidic content which makes the fruit undesirable for winemaking process(Hannah et al., 2013, 6907). Prolonged high temperature would ultimately reduce the quality of the harvested grapefruits which would possess undesirable color, aroma and high acidic levels. The high sugar content levels enhanced by the extreme temperature cause the plant to experience osmotic stresses which negatively affect the quality of the wine. Apart from the above effects, the prolonged dry season would normally induce flavoid which would destroy the desired taste and aroma of the produced wine (Bakker & Clarke, 2011, p.3). In essence, high temperatures with prolonged dry periods significantly reduce the quantity and quality of the grapevine yield.
The adverse effects of high precipitation
Water is the crucial requirement for the germination and photosynthesis process of plant growth. However, an exaggerated increase in levels of water would hinder and reduce the growth and development of most plants. High precipitation which may occur in the form of floods would cause detrimental effects to every variety of grapevines. First and foremost, high water levels are likely to result to waterlogged soils especially in Paso Robles area that is characterized by an array of soil types that have poor drainage. The poorly drained soils are known to provide ample conditions for the growth and development of parasites and microbial plant pathogens (Weaver, 1976, p.48). As a result of this, high precipitation would promote an alarming increase in plant diseases such as bunch rot and downy mildew (Singh et al., 2013, p.74). Diseased grapevine would directly lead to reduced yield in quantity and quality of the grapefruits.
In conclusion, the temperature and precipitation play vital roles in determining the growth and development of a grape plant. As a result, high precipitation and temperature levels would significantly reduce the quality and quantity of the harvested grapefruits. It is with this profound reason that wine industries are required to integrate planning and adaptation strategies to promote productivity amid the ever-changing climatic conditions.
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