March 28, 2012 — From the few months we’ve had so far, it seems 2012 is not the greatest year for grape growing.

California is already facing a grape shortage and now weather in the Midwest is causing some growers to break into a sweat over a potential winter freeze that could extensively harm grapevines, according to WinesandVines.com.

The winter and spring high temperatures have buds breaking early throughout the Midwest, triggering unpleasant memories in grape growers’ minds of the 2007 “Easter freeze.” That year, record low temperatures followed record high temperatures, killing grapevines and costing the U.S. $2 billion in crop damage.

 Although weather forecasts for April are predicted to be warmer than usual, there could still be two or three days that pose a risk of frost damage, said Michael Hudson, operations officer for the National Weather Service’s central region, in the WinesandVines.com article.

Mark Hart, owner of Mt. Ashwabay Vineyard in Bayfield, Wis., told WinesandVines.com that many growers in Wisconsin are new to the industry and do not have the proper equipment to deal with frost damage. Unfortunately, vineyards from other Midwest states like Missouri, are also under-prepared for frosts, according to R. Andrew Allen, extension viticulturist with the Institute for Continental Climate Viticulture and Enology.

From Winesandvines.com:
“Most growers don’t have frost protection systems, and Allen said some would turn to helicopters or burning hay bales if needed. In the meantime, he said most would likely just pray that the mild weather holds out and they can ride out what could be an early season. ‘We’re all very nervous.’”

Read on for the full article!