Drought and dry weather could put wine crop in peril

      EUGENE, Ore. - Lane and Linn counties started the month with a snowpack of about 18 percent of normal.

      Recent storms helped close the gap: the region is at about 50 percent of normal but still in a drought, said Michael Mattick, wastemaster for the region made up of the two counties.

      The drought could impact the wine grape crop.

      Growers at Silvan Ridge said they and many other Willamette Valley vineyards practice "dry farming," which means they don't irrigate and rely on the water in the soil.

      Normally that's not a problem.

      But 2013 was the driest year on record for Eugene. If the dry weather continues into 2014, it could mean the grapes won't get the water they need, which would make the plants shut down prematurely.

      That could make for a bad growing season.

      Wine grap growers said they will have to wait and see - and hope for rain around Oregon.