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Rough Winter Threatens Vineyards and Wineries in Virginia

Posted on Apr 27, 2014

Although the extreme winter weather that hit the nation over 2013 and the start of 2014 didn’t do much damage to Virginia’s peach and cherry trees, other agriculture in the state may have suffered tremendously. As spring weather starts rolling in, the farmers caring for the sometimes-fickle wine-producing grapes are reporting significant losses due to the weather and concerns about providing enough fruit for Virginia’s growing wine industry.  

An Unfortunate Mix of Weather Extremes

The season got off to a bad start, with many vineyard owners already reporting damaged vines from last May’s late freeze. The addition of this winter’s harsh temperatures, sudden weather changes, and spring frosts has many vineyards concerned about yields in 2014. Experts have estimated that approximately five percent of the harvest has been lost, and many Virginia vineyards are reporting extensive bud loss and damage to young plants.

The Unique Difficulties for Wine-Grape Producers

It’s important to note, too, that wine-producing varieties of grapes are more sensitive to weather changes and extreme temperatures than many of the popular food grapes grown in Virginia. Where hybrid and native grape varieties can survive an unusually harsh winter, the more delicate viniferous plants are easily damaged or killed when conditions aren’t “just right.” For many vineyards and in-state wineries, the loss in yield from this year’s extremes in weather could be devastating.

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