Weather and wine: Cold temperatures impact on local vineyards

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CAMBRIA, N.Y.(WIVB)– Despite summer being just a month away snow and cold are in the forecast. Although this year’s crops are safe, grapes are at risk for damage in the upcoming days. Co-owner of Arrowhead Spring Vineyards, Robin Ross says it could be destructive, however they have a plan to help keep their business protected.

Ross says, “We worry about when our bud break is and then when the last frost of the year is. Once the leaves are open on the end of the bud, they are sensitive. They could be prone to damage if we had a cold weather situation.”

Damage to the grape crop would undeniably hurt their wine business. Without grapes Ross says she would suffer greatly. That is why protection is key.

If the bud itself doesn’t produce a cluster, then they have a reduced crop load and a reduced finish.

On a large scale covering the grapes seems like an impossible task. That’s why the Ross’s and other grape growers have found other ways to protect their purple money maker.

She said, “They have large fans, big wind machines that move the warmer air that could be above down into the vineyard and keep the air moving so that frost does not settle on the vines.”

In addition to fans, the family says they have used a more archaic technique in the past.

Ross said, “By lighting a fire at the base of our hill. That fire will cause a chimney effect with warm air rising and then will start pulling and circulating air and will mitigate the frost problem.”

Vineyards and wineries here in Western New York pick their location strategically. For areas in Niagara County the escarpment helps keep them safe and warm.

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