44 Live: Growing in Wisconsin Weather
Apr. 26, 2017
Like the production of wine, the management of any given vineyard with the provided weather, is all about balance. That balance determines how fruitful, abundant and manageable a vineyard can be.
Climate affects where and if growth is possible and once you realize the region can supplement your needs, you have to be flexible with mother nature. Doing this in California or Italy can be difficult, but trying to manage 10 acres of various grape varietals, while trying to have the Wisconsin weather cooperate, damn near impossible. There are certain factors that play into how grapes are grown and whether or not changes to the growing schedule need to be made.
Lower temperatures preserve the acidity but they also make it difficult for grapes to ripen. During the spring season (March-April) ideal temperatures during the day should range from mid 40's to mid 50's. You do not want the spring to come too early because it can cause early budding, which makes them susceptible to frost damage in early May. Once the frost danger passes, you want warm summer days and cool evenings. It's what gives our grapes distinct flavors. Balance.
An ideal amount of rainfall should be about an inch per week, not so much that the vines are diluted and too vigorous, but enough to keep the ground moist and the vines happy. Too much rain is a bad thing because not only does it propagate mold and disease, but it will cause overgrowth which is difficult to manage. Not enough rain is more manageable because of irrigation and because the roots are deep making the grapes stronger. Although too much sun can cause grapes to shut down or even crack prior to harvest. Balance.
Snow cover is important because it can provide insulation for the vines, but in any given winter if the temperatures are too low for too long the vines can be damaged. Wind is nice because it blows a lot of the precipitation around balancing out the water intake and drying out some of the over hydrated vines. Balance.
Balance is key in vine growing as is all things agriculture. Weather's impact on grapes is the ultimate expression of mother nature's influence on the final product.
For information about warm climate vs cool climate wines click here