Some of Missouri’s grapes have died on the vine because of a harsh winter and spring. Jim Anderson, executive director of the Missouri Wine and Grape Board, said he expects about a 60% to 70% reduction of projected crop yields by the time this fall’s harvest rolls around.

“Where you’d have about four tons per acre, we’re looking probably close to about one ton. And it may be less now with the dry conditions,” Anderson told the Missouri Legislature’s Agriculture Committee on Tuesday.

“You’re going to see, of course, less wine being sold from these wineries, too. They’re going to have to do more blending to be able to make up the difference with different wines or grapes coming in from different states,” he said.

Other states are having their own problems.

“We’ve started seeing damage now from frost in New York, in Pennsylvania and Ohio, so that’s going to really limit our numbers of grapes being available for this fall,” Anderson said.

How big is Missouri’s wine and grape industry?

According to Anderson, it’s about a $3.2 billion industry. The state has more than 400 grape growers and over 130 wineries.

Steve Carroll, with the Missouri Grape and Wine Alliance, said the state could be the “Napa Valley of the Midwest” and growers could double the economic impact of the industry in the next ten years.

“Missouri is really producing some very, very good wine. You have to remember, back in the 1850s, it was the Missouri wines, the grape growers, that helped sustain France’s wine. Otherwise, they wouldn’t have had anything because of the massive disease that they had. And so, we feel like we have a long history, but we feel like we had the opportunity to have a bright future,” Carroll told the committee.

He said the alliance plans to lobby the legislature next year to help fund and build a research center at the University of Missouri.

We currently have the Wine and Grape Institute there now,” he said. “We just have three small labs and five offices there. But for us, I believe to reach the next level, we need a research facility that we can use to develop our root stock. And we think the only way to get us to the next level is to have this research facility. We’re also looking at trying to get some federal dollars as well for our research fermentation center.”

Carroll did not mention how much money the group wants from the state.

Copyright © 2023