Grape Expectations: Heat may bring sweet reward on the vine

Written by admin   // July 12, 2012   // Comments Off

(Peoria Journal Star)This summer’s hot, dry weather that’s burning up area cornfields may be good for the grapes, said several central Illinois growers. Other crops are hanging in there despite all the sunshine, said area producers.

“Grapes like stress. Stress makes for a better wine,” said Paul Hahn, co-owner of the Mackinaw Valley Vineyard in Mackinaw.

“The year 2001 was a terrible drought year in Europe, where thousands died, but they produced good wine,” he said.

“The grape is smaller in hot, dry weather and the flavor more intense. Instead of four to five tons per acre, we’ll get one or two tons per acre,” said Hahn.

Cris Willett of Willett’s Winery in Manito said the hot weather raises the sugar level in the grape. “I think 2012 will be an excellent year for wine, but last year was a great year, too,” she said.

The early spring – where some grape vines blossomed before an April frost – cost her about 25 percent of some of her grape varieties, said Willett.

“I’ve had to irrigate new grape vines we planted this year. It will be several years before these vines bear enough fruit to use for wine,” she said.


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