Warm Winter Could Lead to Less Wine

By: Suzanne Wilson Email
By: Suzanne Wilson Email

March 13, 2012

The warm weather could be causing problems for area vineyards. Cold air coming in after the warm weather this week may cause the vineyards to produce less fruit, ultimately meaning less wine.

"The ideal weather for a vineyard would be to have a long, constant, cold winter," said Carrington King, of King Family Vineyards.

That didn't happen in Charlottesville this year, the area has had one of the warmest winters to date, and the buds are waking up early.

"The worry for us is, and for all the vineyards in the ares, is a really early bud break," said King. The average budding date is around April 10 and until this week buds have been dormant.

One way to know if the warm weather is effecting the vines is to look and see if any water is coming out of the open wounds on the vine. If there is, that means they will be budding early.

Early budding acts as a double-edged sword, as long as the air stays warm the vines are fine, if there is a frost, however, it can mean less wine to drink.

"If I come out in ten days and I have bud break early and we don't have a frost, I'll be happy because my fruit comes out early, and I flower early, and therefore I'm eventually I'm harvesting earlier," said King.

The warmth has not been a bad thing for the wine industry, business has been up 20 to 25 percent this winter.

"You have a day like today people are dying to get outside and put on their spring clothes and have a glass of wine," said King.

Until the coldest days are gone, vineyard managers will not know how abundant the vines will be. Overnight temperatures will be closely monitored and there is also a concern for the number of insects that survived the warm winter.

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