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Dying on the vine

NBC
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Friday, August 22, 2014 - 2:28pm

California's record-setting drought is having a serious impact on that state's wine and grape industry.

The lack of rain and water allocations means much of the fruit is dying on the vine.

Driving by the La Jolla Farming grape vines, things look lush. But study them closer and profits are hitting the ground.

Jesse Rodriquez is the manager for the farm.

He says because of the drought, at least 80-percent of grapes on one 160-acre lot are shriveled and soft, unable to go to market and turned away by wineries. That leaves at least two million pounds on the ground to rot.

"District didn't give us the water. Our wells went dry. We had to buy water from different growers, but it wasn't enough to maintain this ranch. We just had enough things to keep it alive," Rodriguez says.

Adriana Guzman has had a job in the fields for more than 30 years. She says she's never seen a drought this bad in all of the time she's worked, and work at La Jolla Farms already isn't paying as it did in the past. 450 employees work the 1,400 acres in total. Rodriguez says they are paid hourly and by the box.

Typically that's 160,000 boxes. This year, rodriguez expects just ten percent of that.  

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