The Coachella Valley, grape grower-shippers say, has managed to evade the water troubles plaguing much of the Golden State.
Water availability is only a non-issue in Coachella because of the investments the industry has made in conservation, said John Burton, sales manager of Coachella, Calif.-based Peter Rabbit Farms.
“Over the years, we’ve really developed good technologies in drip irrigation, and without that technology, water would be an issue in the valley,” he said. “We constantly have people working on maintaining the water we have.”
Fortunately for Coachella grape growers, drip irrigation has been a good fit, Burton said.
“Commodities that can’t take drip well are in trouble,” he said.
Drake Larson, partner in Drake Larson Sales, Thermal, Calif., agreed.
“We’re in very good shape,” he said. “We’re always up to speed with being water-wise and water-conscious. We’re not having the problems other growers in California are having.”
Historically, even the Coachella Valley hasn’t been immune from water worries, said Barry Bedwell, president of the California Grape & Tree Fruit League, Fresno.
But thanks to the “very expensive” input costs the valley has borne in recent years to mitigate its water problems, Coachella is in better shape now than is the rest of the state, Bedwell said.
Those mitigation efforts could wind up serving as a model for other grape-growing regions of the Golden State, he said.
“You don’t hear about the same water issues for Coachella as you do for the rest of the state,” he said. “Coachella is kind of in its own univ