NC Grape Farmers Dealing with Effects of Harsh Winter

GIBSONVILLE -- Grape farmers in North Carolina are dealing with the effects of our harsh winter, along with our up and down temperatures.

Grove Winery and Vineyards owner Max Lloyd Says this winter has been no joke.

"We've been growing grapes for about 25 years,” Lloyd said. “This is the coldest winter we've ever had. It was pretty scary."

Wednesday's warm weather was a welcome treat.

"Today was the first day it was warm enough to get back in the vineyard,” Lloyd said. “We were cutting into the buds to see if they were OK, and we saw a lot of green there, and that's how we knew we dodged a bullet."

But it was a very close call, especially with more sensitive varieties, like Tempranillo and Chardonnay.

"Research on those says that they can go to about -4 degrees before you get economically significant bud kill,” Lloyd said. “Here in Guilford County, the forecast was for temperatures at -4, and it looks like we got closer to -1, so we're OK."

Up and down temperatures have also made it challenging.

"It's pretty confusing from the grape vines to go through a 50 degree temperature swing,” Lloyd said. “But I think we have enough cold weather coming to where they won't get confused."

Lloyd says his next big challenge at the vineyard is to protect buds from frost in early April.

But, he adds, that's minor compared to what some North Carolina grape farmers are dealing with right now.

"I'm certain that some vineyards that are at higher elevations in Virginia and North Carolina lost all of their crop this year,” Lloyd said.

The real test will be in a couple of years, when you'll be able to taste wine made from this year's crop. The vineyard also had to suspend its winter pruning last week because of the large amount of snow the Triad got.

If you’d like to check out The Grove Vineyards yourself, they will be hosting a food truck rodeo this Sunday, March 8, from noon-4 p.m.