California’s water crisis has sent its wine industry reeling, but its beer industry is struggling to make up the difference.
The state’s most popular beers are down about a third of their sales since the start of the drought, according to a study released Monday.
“The water crisis in California has caused a significant downturn in the quality of California’s wine industry,” said Michael T. Dolan, chief executive officer of the California Winery and Distilleries Association, which represents more than 3,000 wineries in the state.
“We’re seeing the impact of that on our consumers and businesses.”
The California Wine Association said it expects the state to be unable to meet its goal to meet the demand for its most popular products in 2019.
The agency said that in addition to the steep drop in sales, prices have soared for imported wine from around the world.
The association said that more than half of California wines were sold in the United States in October, down nearly 6 percent from the same month in 2014.
Wine prices in October were $5.10 per gallon, up from $5 per gallon in October 2014, according the association.
“It is hard to believe that we could not anticipate this impact if the market were healthy,” said Mark L. Tabor, the association’s executive director.
“What’s not to like about California’s best wines?”
Tabor said that the state has already started to recover from the drought and is expected to meet or surpass its goal of being able to meet demand for wine by 2019.
That’s a step in the right direction for the industry, he said, but said the recovery will take time.
The wine industry is in the midst of a recovery after years of drought that resulted in some of the worst years in decades for vineyards and vineyards.
In January, the state had about a million fewer acres of wine production than it did in 2015.
But it has recovered and is now expected to hit 1.2 million acres by mid-2019, according Tabor.
He said that is a far cry from the 20 million acres that California’s wineries had before the drought.
“I don’t think we have a great understanding of the recovery from the previous drought, but we do know that we’re seeing some recovery in the vineyards,” Tabor told The Associated Press in a phone interview.
“So it’s certainly a positive for us.”
Tabor noted that the California Department of Water Resources says that there are no restrictions on how many acres a vineyard can grow in a given year, and the state is not restricting the number of grapes a vine is allowed to grow.
“You can’t go back in time and say that the last two years were a good recovery period, because we haven’t seen any signs of that,” he said.
But many wineries are worried that if they cannot meet their goal to grow at least 10 million acres in 2019, they will have to stop growing.
That means they would have to shut down for the rest of the year.
“In a perfect world, the wine industry would be back in full force and growing like crazy, but the reality is, we have to make tough decisions,” Tampin said.
He noted that he hopes the state can find ways to help wineries compete more effectively in a market that is increasingly competitive.
“If you can’t compete, you’ll never have a winery in California,” Tambour said.
“And that’s the reality of the situation.”
Associated Press writer Chris O’Brien contributed to this report.