By CJ Krueger
Mother Nature always has the final say when it comes to the growing season.
Wine producers throughout the Midwest can attest to that fact, especially when the bitter winter winds blow or chilling spring frosts stop growing vines in their tracks.
Vintners at Wollersheim Winery in southwestern Wisconsin said a late May frost this year cost them 70 percent of their red grapes and 25 percent of their white grapes. Temperatures plummeted to 27 degrees and although workers tried to save the crop using heating equipment, most of the grapevines in the 32-acre vineyard were affected.

“Harvest won’t take place until early September, so we won’t know the true effects until then,” said Julie Coquard, the winery’s vice president and marketing director. “In terms of our wine supply, we’ll start to see the impacts in 2017, which is when the wines from this harvest will be released.”
Although a major setback, Coquard said harvest fluctuations are a part of farming.
“We’ll try to make more of our non-estate wines to have enough wine for our customers,” she said.
Wineries, especially those located in the Midwest, specifically grow grapes that do well in the colder climate. Vineyard workers also prune and maintain grapevines with growing conditions in mind. They also have special equipment to deal with weather fluctuation.
Tami Bredeson, president of Carlos Creek Winery, said her Minnesota winery has faced a number of weather related setbacks over the past four years.
“Producers of more traditional crops like corn and soybeans have a number of federal programs as well as access to crop insurance that Minnesota grape growers lack,” Bredeson said. 
“When harsh winters, late springs or early frosts reduce or eliminate harvests, wine growers not only lose revenue from that year, they end up pouring more money and labor into restoring the vines. Yet Minnesota wine producers are passionate in their pursuit of the perfect vintage, and that keeps them going.”


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