Recent Cold Snap Brings Mixed Effects to Local Vineyards
MELROSE -- The recent record-setting overnight frost around the upper Midwest brought a mixed bag of effects to central Minnesota grape vineyards and wineries.
This past weekend's devastating frost reportedly resulted in the loss of 70 to 90 percent of crops in states like Wisconsin, Michigan and Ohio. In St. Cloud, the overnight lows reached 29 degrees on Saturday morning and 28 degrees on Sunday.
The cold temperatures had vineyards like Whispering Oaks Winery in Melrose working until sunrise to spray water on their leaves and vines to keep them moist.
Chris Ellering, co-owner of Whispering Oaks, says they got through Saturday morning without any losses but says they needed a bit of divine intervention on Sunday.
"At about 3:00 a.m., I said a little prayer for the wind to change," Ellering says. "About a half hour later, the wind changed direction and we pulled some moist air off the lake, some fog rolled in, so we got by with zero losses over the weekend."
Don Millner of Millner Heritage Winery in Kimball says they also worked all night over the weekend to spray their 5,000 vines.
"We worked, we did everything we could," Millner says. "In the end, we did get damage -- we think we lost about 50 percent of our primary buds."
Millner says grapes have primary buds and secondary buds -- and if the primary buds (which bring in the biggest yield) freeze off, the secondary buds will activate.
"It's kind of like a spare tire but it only does about 40 percent of the normal crop," Millner says. "So if we don't get hailed out, dried out, or any other problem -- if we're lucky, maybe we can get 60 percent of our normal crop but there's a lot of season left to go."
"This is part of farming, and it's always a struggle -- it takes very much to get that wine in the glass."