Madison: Weather and wine a winning combination

6:52 PM, Jul 17, 2012   |    comments
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MADISON -- Wine and the weather? This summer it could be a good combination. Local winemakers say the grapes love this weather.

High temperatures are ripening the grapes weeks earlier than usual. Vinters at St. Joseph's Vineyard in Madison expect their grapes to start turning color in the next 10 days.

While drought isn't good for most agriculture, but grapes have deep root structures that can survive off scarce water.

In fact, growers often have problems associated with excess moisture like rot, mold and mildew that they've avoided in 2012.

"It ended up being a pretty good year," said Joe Pietryk, a second generation vinter at St. Joseph's.

The spring's late frost killed about 30 to 40 percent of buds across the state, affecting each vineyard a little differently.

In Madison, it pushed them a few weeks behind, but hot temperatures helped them catch up.

Pietryk says a smaller crop meant less pruning and hedging than a heavy year and a sweeter fruit, making 2012 an excellent vintage.

"With this heat, it's going to help really ripen the grapes and they are going to turn out very nice," he said.

All 30 acres of them will be harvested in the fall, making more than 25,000 bottles of Ohio wine.

"What we want is more quality over quantity so we'll make sure our nutrients are going to just one cluster instead of three different clusters," said Matt Bruening, a summer field worker.

Come back to St. Joseph's Vineyard or the hundreds of other Ohio wineries in a few years and you'll taste the difference this summer is making.

Pietryk says 2012 whites should be available next summer, and reds in about two years.

"It really makes a unique wine when you actually grow that grape," he said.

Donniella Winchell, the executive director for Ohio Wine Producers, says most of her 160 member wineries are doing well with the weather.

With a higher quality, lower quantity product, Winchell says you may notice a price increase on some varieties.

But most wines will remain at their price point. If the dry weather continues and the biennial vines have "dry feet" going into winter, Winchell says the effects of this summer could be seen in future years.


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