Water, Wine, and Springtime

March 27, 2015

The great news is that Spring has sprung in wine country and it is a beautiful time of year. With that in mind we are going to talk about water, wine and Springtime. The not so great news is that we are still playing catch up on our water supply. On the other hand the wine business is strong and customers are trading up which helps supports a healthy wine country economy and of course wine country real estate.

In this blog we are going to look at our general water sources, the drought, the wine business and how Spring is taking off in wine country.

Whether you are in Healdsburg, Santa Rosa, Saint Helena, Lake Tahoe or San Francisco, water is important. Lets look at four general water sources:

Groundwater – groundwater, just as it sounds, comes from underground and is pushed to the surface using wells and pumps to supply water for both domestic, irrigation and frost control purposes.   This water comes from aquifers where water has been gathering and stored for many years under the earth’s surface. There is great concern about the amount of water being used from this source over the last few years because there hasn’t been enough precipitation to replace what has been used. Even so, some areas are fortunate to have more groundwater than others.

Rivers & Streams – some real estate parcels that border rivers and streams have historical riparian rights that allow them access to water from these resources. However, newer restrictions have come on line over the years scaling back the ability of some to source water from rivers and streams based on flow, as well as limiting the time of year when they may access this resource.

Reservoirs – Reservoirs come in all shapes and sizes, and are regulated by the state. Large reservoirs like the Hetch Hetchy in the Sierras supply water to San Francisco while smaller reservoirs like Lake Sonoma near Healdsburg serve the local Sonoma County Region. Then there are reservoirs that private property owners use for irrigation and frost protection purposes.

lake, sonoma, water, healdsburg, geyserville, santa rosa

Lake Sonoma Reservoir near Healdsburg

Snow pack – The Sierra Nevada mountain range is typically California’s largest water source with snow being piled up and stored during the winter months. In typical years the snow melt would begin in spring and the runoff would fill streams, rivers and reservoirs to be distributed throughout the state.


This past winter provided a few solid doses of precipitation that helped some regions more than others. These storms trended to the warm side, limiting the amount of snow accumulation, and also had a more coastal track. This is why some areas in the North Coast like Sonoma, Mendocino and Humboldt counties are in better shape this year than last year. Even so, the drought continues and we have to be sure to keep an eye on water levels.

california, drought, water, 2014, 2015, sonoma, napa, real estate

California drought map comparison 2014 to 2015


The economy continues to hum along and our local wine business throughout Sonoma County and the Napa Valley are thriving. From Calistoga to Sebastopol wineries are enjoying a trend we haven’t seen for years. Consumers are trading up in their wine purchases, buying more expensive wines. This is especially important for regions like Napa, Sonoma and other areas that produce high end wine.

wine, consumers, increase, sonoma, napa, pinot noir, cabernet, real estate

Consumers are trading up in their wine purchases.

The trend increases profitability of wineries. Because wineries are more profitable they are looking at increasing production. Increased production is great for vineyard owners and wine grape growers because wineries will continue to buy fruit. Even with several large harvests, demand is still greater than supply. All of this leads to a solid wine country economy that is great for wine country real estate.

Spring Has Sprung

Springtime has arrived early in California wine country evidenced by early pruning, bud breaking taking place 3 weeks earlier than normal, vines pushing out and a long frost season ahead. Even so, the local hills and valleys are full of new growth.   A wonderful display various colors is taking place the foliage come out of winter slumber and spring back to life.

spring, california, petaluma, healdsburg, sonoma, napa, fruit tree, blossom

Spring has sprung in wine country.

Last but not least, there is a good bit of new inventory coming on line and some being discussed behind the scenes. If you have any questions or feedback please don’t hesitate to reach out.



See a related article from the Press Democrat on March 30, 2015  North Coast Water Levels

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