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Grower Reports Polar Vortex Impact Minimal in Ohio Wine Region
Ohio Ag Connection - 02/08/2019

Nick Ferrante, one of the major growers in Ohio's Grand River Valley Winegrowing region, shared a video of "bud cutting," a technique used to check the viability of buds after the recent Polar Vortex hit northeast Ohio. With the preface, "And the verdict is...," he shared a video at

Ferrante reported, "They are alive!"

His Riesling bud cuts showed an incredible 90% viability after prolonged temperatures hovering around and below zero last week. The primary and secondary buds were both green. Had they been black, the 2019 crop would have been lost.

Ferrante reported that his Gruner Veltliner and Gewurztraminer showed similar results. With the Cabernet Franc, viability was down to 80%, but, in any case, he was delighted as there was great fear that the 2019 Vortex would result in significant, season-ending bud and vine death.

Historically, there was reason for concern: The 2013-14-15 Vortex was responsible for nearly a total crop loss two years in a row and actual vine kills that resulted in the need to plant well over 75% of the total winegrape acreage in the Grand River Valley.

Part of the reason for measured optimism,is that our growers were more diligent in their vineyard management techniques. Most tender varieties were "hilled up" with dirt last fall to protect the grafts. Replantings after the previous Vortex were placed on better sites, and Mother Nature helped by providing several weeks of cold weather to help "harden" the vines.

While everyone in the Valley is delighted at this point, everyone is fully award that there is a long road ahead: surely more winter weather, spring frosts, summer hail storms, too much rain, not enough rain, too cold summer temperatures, too hot summer temperatures, a soggy fall, insects, damaging winds and lots more problems may yet need to be addressed.

But at least at this point, Ferante and the Ohio Weine Producers report growers have dodged the Vortex curse and there is hope for a "vintage" year in 2019.

The Grand River Valley, a federally recognized Appellation of Origin, or growing district, is located in northeast Ohio straddling both Lake and Ashtabula counties. It is a small region, just 4 miles wide and 22 miles long, with the largest concentration of winegrape vineyards in Ohio.

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