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VOL. 36 | NO. 48 | Friday, November 30, 2012

Dry, hot summer a mixed blessing for area’s wineries

By Hollie Deese

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Tennessee is known more for its whiskey than its wine. But for the 40 or so wineries located across the state, it’s all about the grape.

Growers of the delicate fruit have faced many weather-related challenges the past few years, many of which are expected and are simply part of the specific challenges that vintners face.

“As far as soil types, we have excellent conditions in that perspective, with high limestone content very similar to the European grape growing regions,” says Tom Brown of Beans Creek Winery in Manchester. “But we do have challenges. Humidity is a major challenge because it causes disease.”

This year’s dry, hot summer actually helped in a sense, but some vineyards had already been hurt by an early frost and were struggling heading into the drought.

“In many vineyards, frost damage resulted in secondary blooms creating problems for growers,” says Tammy Algood with the Tennessee Department of Agriculture. “At harvest, some grape varieties had essentially two crops on the same vine – clusters from primary buds that escaped the frost and clusters from secondary buds that developed following the cold weather. Yields were reduced and overall fruit quality was reduced.

“As the summer progressed, the extreme heat and lack of rainfall caused further problems. The news is not all bad, however. Where frost damage was not an issue, many fruit crops developed high-quality in spite of the drought and high temperatures. In fact, disease pressure was reduced due to the lack of rainfall.”