Weather events and climate fluctuations have long impacted vineyards and the wines produced with those grapes. Just as this year's El Niño — which comes after a lengthy California drought — will affect the terroir coming out of the state's wineries, 2015's wildfires have thrown their own set of challenges into the mix.
The 2016 wine harvest may be smaller than recent years after the wildfires that ran rampant through California damaged vineyards, destroyed grapes, and left those that remained on the vine riddled with smokiness, according to The Guardian. Large quantities of grapes were tossed after being deemed "unusable" for wine.
While wineries in Napa and Sonoma await reports on the 2015 wildfires, the Wine Institute said the overall quality of the crop was high across the board, despite the lower yield. Jonathan Walters of Brassfield Estate Winery in Lake County, which had a large wildfire in September, told The Guardian he was "confident that the overall industry will remain strong going forward."
Another California vintner, Andy Beckstoffer of Beckstoffer Vineyards, said the effects of the crop damage would likely mean lower quantities of wine and a subsequent price increase in 2016 to the tune of "a few extra dollars for each bottle."
California is responsible for 90 percent of the United States' total wine production — but with a lower grape yield, wineries have had to work harder to source enough quality grapes to produce their wines. Some, such as Hahn Estate, have taken on new strategies to assess the health of their vineyards, including using drones to monitor crop growth and density and to improve harvest.