Central Coast wineries prepare for heat wave

Expected triple-digit heat could pose problems

Central Coast wineries prepare for...

SANTA MARIA, Calif. - A triple-digit heat wave forecast for inland areas of the Central Coast over the next several days could pose problems for local wineries and wine tasting rooms not equipped to handle the excessive heat.

The wine grapes ripening in local vineyards are expected to handle the heat just fine, as long as it cools off at night, but its finished product stored in barrels, tanks and bottles that are most at risk.

"I'll show you from grape to glass how this all happens", says winemaker James Murphy with Sans Liege Wines as he gives a brief tour of the sprawling Central Coast Wine Services mega-winery in Santa Maria and its vast, climate-controlled storage facility, "ideally 55 degrees is the golden temperature for me."

Murphy says the anticipated heat wave forecast for the Central Coast wine region and local wineries could spell trouble for those not equipped to protect their wines.

"It is paramount right now, that's a make or break situation especially when you're looking at triple digits", Murphy says, "you're talking about perceptible degradation in any vessel that its in, stainless steel, wood, a bottle, it doesn't matter, its going to degrade in a very short period of time."

Murphy says CCWS's massive, cooled storage facility and other preventative measures including keeping finished product out of the heat and direct sunlight will be vital over the coming days.

"Number one is climate control", Murphy says, "any winemaker will tell you that the first thing that he's trying to do is to just maintain quality, the biggest enemy of that is heat."

The start of the annual wine grape harvest on the Central Coast is only weeks away with the heat expected to help ripen certain varietals by August.

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