Water dispute bubbling in Central California wine region

Wine Woes

Eric Risberg/AP

FILE - In this Feb. 2, 2010 file photo, winemaker Jason Haas walks past rows of Grenache Blanc vines at Tablas Creek Vineyard in Paso Robles, Calif.

Wine connoisseurs may be enjoying the latest Zinfandel or Syrah from the Paso Robles region, but residents are complaining the growing number of vineyards is straining the local water supply.

A dispute has been bubbling lately between residents and winemakers over the use of an ancient aquifer that covers nearly 800 square miles and is large enough to support annual demand.

However, the wine grape acreage has more than tripled in the past 15 years and some residents say the basin water is flowing freely into the vineyards. More than two-thirds of basin water usage is for farming.

The Los Angeles Times reports wine growers are backing a proposal to form a water district and acquire supplemental water elsewhere.

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