How late summer rain could affect Missouri vineyards

Missouri

LABADIE, Mo. – July started off hot and humid then shifted to an active pattern. Prolonged rainy conditions can eventually lead to problems for local grape growers.

Fred Dressel, owner of Evergreen Vineyard Management in Labadie, says that big rains can be problematic when it’s close to harvest time. Luckily, the rain we’ve seen over the past few weeks is almost a month out from when the beginning of harvest.

This year’s cool spring also slowed things down, so the grapes are about two weeks behind schedule. Still, there could be an issue if this pattern doesn’t shift soon.

“If this rain continues or we get a similar type storm in two or three weeks, that will be very problematic for the grape and wine industry,” Dressel said.

Too much rain means thinner skinned grapes suck up so much water so quickly that they split and get damaged. This can reduce yield and you run the risk of lesser quality.

A familiar grape is most susceptible to this.

“The main one is Missouri’s primary white wine grape – a grape called Vignoles. It makes one of the most popular wines here in the state,” Dressel said.

Several late frosts this spring greatly reduced the crop in many areas. So from now until harvest time, Dressel really hopes the weather cooperates.

“What we’re really hoping for is prolonged cooler weather now without the rain and that would really provide us with ideal harvest temperatures. Cooler juice makes better wine,” Dressel said. “Right now we’re in good shape. It should be a very good harvest but the weather will dictate that.”

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