Fall weather returns early to coastal areas

There was a little early frost on the pumpkin in a few select areas last week, and scattered rain showers washed the dust off a few berries up and down the state. While unseasonably cool temperatures were recorded in certain locales on the Central Coast, damage is thought to be fairly insignificant at this point. In some cases, it may even be helpful.

“The cooler temperatures are allowing growers to pick at different times than normal,” says Chris Taranto, communications manager of the Paso Robles Wine Country Alliance. “I went out to a mechanical harvesting last week in the afternoon — a process that is normally done overnight.”

Taranto estimates that about 40 percent or more of the grapes in the Paso Robles area are harvested at this point.

“I would say we are about half finished,” says Lowell Zelinski with Precision Ag in Templeton. “There were a few areas that got hit with frost that we detected from our monitoring capabilities, but it was only about 5 percent of the acreage. I don’t think it did a lot of damage. If anything, it just stopped the grapes in their tracks by shutting down the leaves.”

Further north along the coast, there were no reports of frost and few anticipated problems.

“The cool weather did not hit,” says Nick Frey, president of the Sonoma County Winegrape Commission. “We had wind and some clouds moving in, but I do not know of any frost occurring.”

Even a few rain showers that occurred last week aren’t particularly disconcerting at this point, according to Frey. “Rain should not create too many problems,” he says. “There is a lot of Cabernet Sauvignon still to be harvested, but it can handle rain pretty well. Most other varieties are nearing completion. I would expect a big week of harvesting.”

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