Local wineries worry about grape crop in cold, rainy weather - Cleveland 19 News Cleveland, OH

Local wineries worry about grape crop in cold, rainy weather

The crop sprouted early this spring at Klingshirn Winery vineyards, where they grow their own grapes. (Source: WOIO) The crop sprouted early this spring at Klingshirn Winery vineyards, where they grow their own grapes. (Source: WOIO)
Lee Klingshirn worries the late spring cold and rain could hurt his grape crop. (Source: WOIO) Lee Klingshirn worries the late spring cold and rain could hurt his grape crop. (Source: WOIO)
Klingshern Winery opened in 1935 and is family owned. (Source: WOIO) Klingshern Winery opened in 1935 and is family owned. (Source: WOIO)
AVON LAKE, OH (WOIO) -

This fickle weather has been tough for local vintners.

Early warm weather had their vines sprouting early, but now they're threatened by the unseasonably cold weather. The rain is bringing another challenge on top of that.

Lee Klingshirn gave Cleveland 19 a tour of his vineyard in Avon Lake on a cold, wet, dreary day.

“The grapes actually formed last season,” he said, pointing to some of his vines.

Klingshirn Winery has been producing wine since 1935.

“My grandfather started it, my father ran it, and now I'm out here continuing the tradition,” he said.

The weather has thrown a few challenges their way over the decades, including a few recent winters.

“We had two polar vortexes in a row, and so after the second one, now it's been two years and they are finally recovering. We are getting growth up onto the wires again,” Klingshirn said.

So they adapted and planted heartier blends of grapes.

“The names of our wines are going to change, but they'll still be great quality,” he said.

This spring is bringing a different challenge. Early warm weather left the vines sprouting, but now the cold is back.

“Now that it is exposed and growing, we are at risk of frost,” Klingshirn said.

They could lose 90 percent of the crop if that happens. He says they can't do much to protect the vines, but being close to Lake Erie sometimes acts as a natural barrier.

The next problem is all of the rain. It's time to spray fungicide.

“As of this moment we cannot even drive through the vineyards without making big ruts, compacting the soil, which then causes other issues down the road,” he said.

That could lead to fungal issues on the leaves.

But Klingshirn is still optimistic they'll have a good harvest in the fall.

“Challenges. We'll get by, we always do,” he said.

He says they produce about 10,000 gallons of wine in a good year, and they make double that number by sourcing other fruit from the Great Lakes region.

Despite the trouble for vintners, the weather hasn't been all bad news for farmers. Cleveland 19 checked the USDA's numbers for Ohio. They put out statistics every Monday. Corn, soybean, and oats planting are all above the five year average thanks to a mild winter and a warm start to spring.

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