Northern California wildfires could impact wine prices, availability

(WTNH) — So far, the wildfires in California have burned more than 100 acres. Nearly 1,500 homes and businesses have been destroyed, including several wineries.

It’s still too soon to know exactly how that will impact wine prices and availability here in Connecticut. Winemakers think we’ll see a change, but it may not be for a few years, since that’s how long it would take for the grapes on the vines now to be made into wine.

Many wineries in Connecticut use grapes from California to make their wine.

“Anyone who does import grapes from Napa, it’s going to be a higher price probably,” said Kristen Parsons, a winemaker at Chamard Vineyards in Clinton. “Maybe they won’t even get their grapes this year.”

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Though Chamard Vineyards gets grapes from California, they don’t come from the areas impacted by the fires. However, a few years ago the vineyard bought grapes from an area near wildfires. That changed the quality of the wine.

“There was ash on the grapes and that carried over into the taste. You could taste the smoke,” said James Messier, vineyard manager at Chamard Vineyards.

The wine from California will likely taste different in the years to come. The vines will have to be replanted, and it usually takes a few years to produce grapes.

“The older the vine, the better the grape,” said Messier. “These are going to be brand new vines for ten years.”

Winemakers expect certain types of wine to be harder to find. They’ll also be more expensive – especially certain red wines.

“There is still the reds hanging on the vines, the merlot, the cabernet sauvignon,” said Parsons. “It’s going to impact the availability.”

Experts expect you’ll notice higher prices on less expensive bottles of wine. For example, a $10 bottle might go up in price, but they wouldn’t expect a $40 bottle to get much more expensive.

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