Oregon Winemakers Still Reeling From Freak April Frost
My Latest in Wine Business Monthly
by L.M. Archer
“This is only the second frost event I remember in my history of grape growing, which began 40-plus years ago,” says Harry Peterson-Nedry, founder of RR Winery & Ridgecrest Vineyards. “The other event was 1985’s Mother’s Day frost.”
“In Burgundy, spring frosts are always something to watch out for before we get to the heat of the summer,” says Guillaume Large, winemaker at Burgundian-owned Résonance. “However, I have very rarely had to address dealing with frost during my time working harvest there.”
Currently, the scope of damage remain unclear. “I think the main point that everyone wants to know is how much will crops be decreased, but it’s too soon to tell,” says Jessica Mozeico, owner/winemaker at Et Fille Wines. “What I think is important is that we have no reason to believe that it’s going to be a quality impact at this point, but rather, a quantity crop load issue.”
Unfortunately, mid-twenties temperatures mid-April damaged buds coaxed open by earlier warm, dry conditions. Grape buds include a primary, secondary and tertiary bud. During bud break, the primary bud bursts open, releasing shoots and flower clusters. These flower clusters develop into fruit during growing season. If the first bud damages, the second bud develops, yielding less fruit. If the second bud damages, the third bud emerges, typically yielding no fruit.
“Frost impact is highly site specific and variable,” says Mozeico. “I will tell you that for our estate vineyard, which is at a very high elevation, we were not even close to bud break, so I don’t think that there will be an impact at that site, nor do I at two of my other higher elevation sites. It’s my lower elevation sites, that were just starting to go through bud break, that I’m concerned about.“ READ MORE HERE.