Volatile times for CA wine

2021 Moscato grapes in Lodi

Demand for California wine grapes is pushing prices to historic highs.

In late summer of 2020, Steve Sangiacomo was excited. The vintage was shaping up to be an exceptional one. But then on 16 August, in the midst of a summer heatwave, a barrage of dry lightning exceeding hundreds of strikes per hour spread throughout the state, and within 36 hours 585 wildfires were burning, three of which quickly grew to hundreds of thousands of acres while funnelling smoke directly into Napa and Sonoma counties.

‘Our Chardonnay ended up being fine’, says Sangiacomo, ‘but we were only able to harvest...