August 13, 2007
Four months ago, winemakers like King Family Vineyards' Matthieu Finot, were worried about their grapes. "We lost 50 percent of our crop, of our whites," he said.
A vicious cold snap swept through and destroyed much of his crop.
But now, the dry conditions that are making farmers across the state worry about their crops is looking to be a saving grace for winemakers.
That is because the drier the weather, the sweeter the grape.
"You won't be able to make good wine in a wet and humid atmosphere," explained Finot. "So you will be able to have some grapes and you can eat them, but you can't make good wine."
Too much rain causes grapes to swell, diluting their flavor. Instead, dry conditions produce plump, sweet, sugary grapes.
"Everything is more concentrated because you have less water into the berries, so you have more concentration. More tannins. More color. It's just easier for the winemaker to make good wine," said Finot.
Harvest is still about two weeks away, which means a heavy rain could be a bit of a spoiler. Still, Finot predicts there is a celebratory toast in wine lovers' future.
"We won't know until we add everything to the winery, then I can tell you how it is going to taste. But right now, I can say, it's going to taste pretty good," said Finot.
The dry weather is especially good for red wines. Whites and light reds will be bottled in the spring. The heavier reds will be bottled in about 18 months.
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