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Unusually warm spring gives California vineyards a longer season

POSTED: Sunday, April 29, 2012 - 12:00pm

UPDATED: Sunday, April 29, 2012 - 12:04pm

Weather is forever on the minds of California winemakers, and this year's mild winter and warm temperatures have started the process of budding early.

It's weeks ahead of time.

"Really the lack of a Winter and the warm weather, everything came out of dormancy about a month earlier than it normally does," says Jim Ryan, estate manager at Concannon Vineyards in Livermore.

Winemakers fear the tiny grapes, no bigger than a pinhead, won't survive a freeze.

While they welcome the rain, they are hoping the frost stays away.

"We have out fingers crossed to keep the temperatures up in the high 30s maybe low 40s and we'll be okay," Ryan says.

This early start to the growing season means vines are at risk for a longer period of time, leaving vintners watching the weather closely.

"As scientific as we get about making wine and viticulture, growing the wine grapes, we're still 100 percent dependent on Mother Nature," Ryan admits.

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