Mild winter means more business for local wineries

7:41 PM, Feb 19, 2012   |    comments
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CLARKSBURG, CA - Instead of hitting the slopes this holiday weekend, many people are hitting local wineries. A few winemakers and tasting-room managers say they're seeing a larger turnout given the mild winter.

At Clarksburg Winery in the Old Sugar Mill, families came to enjoy a free Mardi Gras celebration -- complete with Zydeco music, jambalaya, and beads for partygoers.

"People have been out in droves. We're just excited to have them here," said Mary Tye, the marketing manager of Old Sugar Mill.

While some wineries say they're counting on creative marketing to draw customers, other wineries say that people are gravitating to the wineries because the ski resorts and slopes are hurting for snow.

"The wineries are a much better choice this year because of how bad the water has been in the mountains. There's no snow there to play on," said Frank Hansen from Brentwood.

Jim Nelson of Pittsburg said he'd normally go backpacking or inner-tubing in the snow in Strawberry. Not this year.

"With the lack of snow, we decided to go wine-tasting this weekend," said Nelson.

The growing interest in wineries is good news for smaller, start-up facilities as well.

"We just opened up. So, we're brand-new. It helps us out that people are trying to find something else to do other than ski," said David Harms of Rendez-Vous Winery.

Some winemakers and growers say it's too early to tell how the mild winter is going to affect their crop.

"With the weather being warmer, luckily the nights have been cool. So, we haven't had a our bud break yet," said Gloria Taylor, owner and manager of Todd Taylor Wines.

Bud break is when the vines start to develop buds. With the unseasonably mild weather, wine industry experts expect that to happen earlier than in years past.

"It'll be interesting to see what happens when the weather warms up," said Taylor.

Until then, business remains brisk and interest appears to be growing in local wineries.

By Suzanne Phan,

Twitter: @suzannephan


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