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John Danza

I just saw this article about the Finger Lakes area. How has the NOTL area faired after this past brutal winter?

U.S. Declares Finger Lakes Wine Country A “Disaster” Zone

Snow and cold temperatures have made it a miserable winter for grape growers in New York state
© Finger Lakes Wine Country | Snow and cold temperatures have made it a miserable winter for grape growers in New York state
Government to help out growers in New York state after a hard winter ravages vines, reports Leslie Gevirtz.

Posted Friday, 28-Mar-2014

The U.S. Department of Agriculture declared the 19 New York counties that make up the Finger Lakes region a disaster area after a winter-long deep freeze that damaged up to 100 percent of some vineyards.

The declaration means the federal agency will provide financial assistance to growers in the Finger Lakes to replant or rehabilitate their vines after months of frigid temperatures that ranged from -7 to -18 degrees Fahrenheit (-21.6 to -27.7 degrees C).

Cornell University researchers conducted tests suggesting that up to 50 percent of the region’s Riesling, Gewürztraminer, Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay and Cabernet Franc vines showed bud damage from the brutal freeze brought on by what weather forecasters called the “polar vortex”.

But some vintners saw 100 percent of their vineyards damaged.

“I’ve been speaking to some of my neighbors and they have 100 percent bud mortality,” said John Martini, owner of Anthony Road Winery. On his 75 acres (30.3 hectares) where he grows European varietals, he said the damage to his Merlot was 100 percent. “But the damage to the Riesling is only 50 percent. That’s good by comparison,” he said.

The researchers warned that at temperatures below -14 F (-25.5 C) even Riesling, the most frost resistant of the Vitis vinifera vines, would sustain heavy damage. The deep freeze is particularly hard on the vines’ “primary” buds, which carry most of the coming season’s fruit. That is likely to mean that the yields will be much lower.

The 2003-’04 winter was the last time such brutal temperatures ravaged the region. The full extent of this winter’s toll on New York’s $4.8 billion grape and wine industry is not yet known.

Martini remains concerned that the damage will extend beyond the buds to vines’ trunks and canes. “We’re not yet sure about that injury because it’s not easy to see and usually shows up when the vine tries to grow. A couple of leaves pop out, but then it all collapses.”

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