January 3

PINOT NOIR PANIC

first_img160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! By The Associated Press SANTA BARBARA – A year of cool, dry weather has left Central Coast vineyards scrambling for grapes to make the popular pinot noir. “People are panicked and clamoring for pinot noir grapes on the Central Coast,” said Kirby Anderson, winemaker at Gainey Wineries. “Gainey is scrambling to meet our quotas with our low yields.” Some wineries are picking the red grapes prematurely because of shriveled and dehydrated vines. The shortage could lead to rising prices, but most wineries use nonnegotiable, prearranged contracts that should stem the immediate effect, vintners said. Pinot noir was already rising in popularity when the 2004 film “Sideways” – set in the Santa Barbara area – gave its profile a huge boost, and winemakers in the region have been devoting increasing acreage to the fragile berry. “A lot of people put all their eggs in one basket and planted pinot noir the most because it was so popular,” Anderson said. But some local wine experts say the small crop will bring a better product, because lighter clusters can mean a tastier grape. “It’s nature; there’s only so much that can be done,” said Jim Fiolek, executive director of the Santa Barbara County Vintner’s Association.last_img read more