Arctic temperatures impact grape crops at northeast Ohio wineries

Avon Lake winery begins to assess damage to buds

AVON LAKE, Ohio - Arctic temperatures that moved through northeast Ohio this week have area wineries concerned about the weather's impact on grape crops.

Lee Klingshirn, president and general manager of Klingshirn Winery in Avon Lake, understood that growing grapes in this climate can be challenging.

"You think one in ten years you're going to have some sort of devastating damage, one in five years we're going to see significant damage," said Klingshirn.

Cold resistance varies between grape varieties. While Klingshirn stated Concord grapes can withstand lower temperatures with virtually no damage, other grapes cannot.

"We've been concerned about the cold weather and what it might be doing to our more tender grape varieties like the Rieslings, Pinot Grigios, Cabernet Francs that don't typically grow in this climate," said Lee.

Though spring is typically the time to check for healthy grape buds on vines, Klingshirn began assessing potential damage Wednesday by cutting buds open with a utility knife.

While Concord buds checked out good, Riesling buds did not.

"It (Riesling bud) looks very brown, black and I would call it dead," said Lee.

Based on Wednesday's assessment, Klingshirn predicted, at best, seeing 30 percent of the Riesling crop this year.

Klingshirn stated his wine prices should not be impacted by cold weather crop damage. Last year's mild winter will carry Klingshirn Winery thru a slim season.

"The good point, we picked a lot of grapes this past fall, we had a bumper crop in 2013 and therefore right now our tanks are pretty full," said Lee.

In addition to bud damage, Klingshirn will also be watching out for cold weather damage that could impact and even possibly kill the trunks and vines of the more tender grape varieties.

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