Published online by Cambridge University Press: 18 February 2021
California is one among many regions around the world dealing with water scarcity pressures, and these scarcity pressures are compounded by the economic importance of California’s wine sector. As discussed in this chapter, growing grapes can be economically precarious for many reasons, including the vulnerability of grapes to early season frost episodes. One of the main strategies for wine growers to protect grapes from frost is to continuously mist vineyards with water prior to and during the periods in the growing season when temperatures can temporarily drop below freezing. This frost protection technique is used for vineyards not only in California but also in other wine-growing regions such as New Zealand.
For instance, a 2018 article in Wine Enthusiast magazine documented how grape growers in the New Zealand’s Central Otago region used sprinklers to combat frost. According to Andrew Donaldson, owner of the Akitu Winery in the New Zealand’s Central Otago region, “In spring, our primary defense is water sprinklers.” The article reports: “These sprinklers exploit the latent heat developed through freezing. Water is sprayed over the vines, which freezes in a clear film around the newly formed shoots.