A February Deception

Brrrrrr! It’s cold outside! I have learned over the past sixty plus years never to trust the months of February and March. This year we were lolled into a false sense of warmth and early spring.  It looked like the lion of winter had died, but Noooo!  Along comes March and it truly has come in like the lion.  It has created a lot of speculation in the wine industry in Virginia.

February was deceiving not only to the people who enjoyed it, but to the flora as well. Crepe myrtles came into bloom along with many other plants that normally bloom much later.  I saw a picture of a Chardonnay vine where the but not only broke, but there was substantial growth as a result of the warm climate.

Last year we had a similar situation with a late frost no one was expecting and buds were damaged in an area that covered the entire east coast all the way west to Ohio and Indiana.  This year, everyone was sure it was going to be an early season with temperatures warm  to stay.  Pruning has been done by most.  Some of us slow ones lucked out this year.  I am waiting until this craziness is over before pruning at Loch Haven.

Fortunately, we experience the lake effect each year.  I have a pond next to my vineyard and even in a mild winter, it stores enough cold that it keeps the air in the vineyard cooler than other places on my property.  As a result, the buds develop slower.  This was quite a blessing last year when we had the late frost and has proven to be the same this year.  Although February was warm, the buds in the vineyard are tight and I believe we should have a good harvest.  I had an editor who asked me to write a story on the art of growing grapes. My response was that growing grapes is a wing and a prayer!  It is not a good year until harvest and the grapes de-stemmed, crushed, pressed and fermenting into wine.  But so far, it looks good.

Back to the speculation mentioned before.  Already some wineries are putting their feelers out for grapes beyond the normal demand.  The western part of the state got hit hard this March, particularly with the Nor’Easter that is blowing through.   Some weather experts are saying the ground is warming up and will get no colder, offering a bit of encouragement  We can only wait and see.

Thanks goes out to Christina for encouraging me to keep blogging. 


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