The California Drought and the Impact on Wine Production

We all know the saying “Water, water everywhere and not a drop to drink” but in California many vineyards fear that the drought and brutal water shortage will inevitably translate to a wine shortage – and just when the wine industry was expecting a boom.

The supply of both the fruit and water for wine production is limited by nature and, due to nature’s limits of water on the west coast, water is being limited by the government as well. State Water Project allocations in California currently hover around 20% of normal – and smaller wineries and/or more inexpensive wines are suffering the worst. The increasing cost of water becomes more difficult to justify if the product is only going to be sold for $7 a bottle. However, quality vintage wines stand to suffer just as much as winemakers may be forced to cut corners in order to withstand the increased cost of production and keep their prices attractive to consumers.

It’s a tumultuous time. Thus far, grapevines have prevailed despite the drought, but as conditions worsen, the fate of California’s vineyards is looking grim. Grapevines are natural survivors, but the industry is going to need more than instinct; it’s going to need innovation.

On average, it takes about 6 gallons of water in the cellar to make a gallon of wine. Everything in a wine cellar needs to be as clean as possible and water is the often the path to this cleanliness. Most water use in winemaking can be attributed to the cleaning of barrels and tanks. Oak wine barrels are tedious beasts to clean; if you want to reuse a barrel for a new batch of wine, you must thoroughly wash the barrel’s every nook and cranny.

Stainless steel barrels provide a water and cost conscious alternative to traditional oak barrels. And, at time where water is money, winemakers could do more than survive by switching a portion of their production to stainless steel barrels.

Skolnik offers stainless steel wine barrels in a variety of sizes, giving winemakers the freedom to keep up production and experiment despite the ongoing drought conditions.

Contact one of our representatives to discuss how a stainless steel wine barrel could help support your operations and artistry.