The cold snap that has gripped large areas of Missouri in recent days is much more than an inconvenience for the state’s winemakers and grape growers. Jim Anderson, Executive Director of the Missouri Wine & Grape Board , says an unusually warm March led to buds on certain varieties of grapes starting to push out early. And, they were damaged once the warm weather went away and the bitter cold set in.
Unfortunately, it appears as though there is nothing that can be done to mitigate the damage to the grapes. So, Anderson says growers now have to be concerned with protecting the vines, which might be used for the next quarter century or more.
The impact of the damage might not be felt by wine drinkers until next year as this year’s wine is made with last year’s harvest of grapes. Next year, according to Anderson, we could run into trouble as there will be fewer grapes from which to make the wine and the grapes that survived the cold will be more expensive. He says the Wine & Grape Board and the Missouri Department of Agriculture might alleviate this problem by altering the grape and juice content requirements. Current rules require a win can only be labeled a Missouri product if at least 85 percent of the grapes and juice come from this state. The rule could be waived to allow for a greater percentage of imported grapes and juices.
Anderson says assessment teams are in the field, trying to determine the severity of the damage, and they should have an idea sometime in the coming week.