That was the headlines all last week. We reached a reading of -35F at the vineyard Wednseday morning January 30th. That beats the -30F reading we had in January 2009.
What’s the cold weather do to the grapes? Hopefully, not too much damage. There are a couple of factors that work in our favor. #1 – Temperatures were below freezing for a couple weeks before the cold, cold snap. The vines were conditioned to freezing weather instead of being warmed with water starting to run through the roots and truck. #2- Two feet of a snow blanketed the ground keeping the ground and roots at a warmer temperature than -30F.
The roots are the most important part of the vine to keep from negative temps. The trunks may split and have to be cut off from the result of frigid temperatures, but if the roots, are good, a new truck can be grown. I expect to be cutting some Vignoles vines down to the ground later this spring because of these cold record temperatures. But, the roots should be able to produce new shoots to be trained for new trunks.
I anticipate that Vignoles is the only variety widely affected. The other hyrids that we grow here in Northern Ilinois like St. Pepin, Frontenac, LaCrosse and Marechal Foch should tolerate the cold much better. Vignoles will also be affected by temperature lower that -15F, but I like the wine so much, we keep growing it…….
So, until March comes and it’s time for pruning, hunker down with a bottle of Massbach wine in front of the fire and stay warm.