Temecula wineries are reaping the rewards of an early harvest, made possible by an unseasonably hot summer.
The season for growing, then harvesting, was shortened by a few weeks because of the heat, according to Peggy Evans, executive director of the Temecula Valley Winegrowers Association.
"It has been kind of condensed," Evans told Patch.
"The heat makes the sugars increase in the grapes," Evans said.
And it has been hot this summer.
"We actually started picking at the beginning of August because of the heat," Evans said.
There was not a grape left in the Valley by last week, according to Evans. All of the crops having been picked or sold for picking, she said.
Some wineries have already begun crushing their grapes, Evans said, and crushing for the season should be finished well before October is over.
According to Jim Purpura, meteorologist with Weathercurrents.com, Temecula had some of the hottest days on record—for August and September—since 1999.
Purpura told Patch that in August, there were 23 days above the normal average temperature of 75.
"The monthly average of 78.9 was 3.9 degrees above normal … quite unusual," Purpura said.
"This means August was also the warmest August back through the Temecula WeatherCurrents period of record—1999," he said.
Purpura added that the weather station for Temecula has had 16 days during which the temperature rose higher than 100 degrees.
"This is the most days at or over 100 in Temecula since 2000," Purpura said.
The average daily temperatures experienced in Temecula during the month of September since 1999—taking the daily high and the daily low and averaging them out—was 72 degrees, according to Purpura.
But this September, only three days—Sept. 24, 25 and 26—had an average temperature of 72 degrees, he said.
The daily highs have run as high as 11.5 degrees above normal (in September), on days 14 and 15; on those days the temperature reached the month’s high of 103 degrees.
Purpura said September ran 4.6 degrees above normal on the whole.
Though in other parts of the country, agriculture may have suffered because of drought, Temecula stands to get a bump in revenue this year because of its fine harvest and of course, tourism.
Local, direct Temecula Valley travel spending saw an all-time high of $603.4 million prior to the recession, according to an impact study commissioned by the Temecula Valley Convestion & Visitors Bureau and prepared by Dean Runyun Associates,
"While a low of $509 million was reached in 2009 with the economic downturn, travel spending is rallying back toward that all-time high," the report stated. "The $88.7 million rebound in just two years, to $597.8 million in 2011 non-resident spending here in Temecula, is significant."
The study found that of the nearly $600 million in Temecula Valley travel spending in 2011, $223 million was spent on arts, entertainment and recreation, while $99 million was spent on restaurants, food and beverage.
A whopping $180 million was earned by spending on leisure and hospitality, including $32 million for retail, travel and tour and winery establishments, according to the study.
Temecula Wine Country is among the three primary visitor attractions, the report stated.
Industry jobs generated in 2011 by travelers to the destination numbered 6,190, according to the study, and the average visitor to the Valley spends $129 per day.