Wine Industry Feels Effects of Brutal Winter - WBOC-TV 16, Delmarvas News Leader, FOX 21 -

Wine Industry Feels Effects of Brutal Winter

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(Photo: WBOC) (Photo: WBOC)

VIENNA, Md.- We have all been feeling winter's wrath; even the wine industry. Grape growers in New York, for example, are bracing for major losses, with frigid temperatures leading to a lot of dead buds. Here on Delmarva, Wineries like Layton's Chance in Vienna, Md., say they are prepared for weather like this, but still feeling the effects of an especially brutal season.

It is only appropriate that Tuesday's visit to Layton's Chance would be cold and snowy. After all that has been the story all winter long.

"It's time for winter to be over and spring to be here," remarked Joe Layton. "The longer it goes, the more concern it is to us."

The Layton's family farm has been in operation for three generations, and boasts 1,250 acres of corn, wheat and soybean crops.

"The wheat right now compared to a year ago is a lot smaller," Joe Layton noted. "Its been a cold winter, hasn't grown."

The vineyard is a fairly new addition. Planted back in 2007, its 14 acres are devoted to wine.

"We chose these vines for this area, and they're actually cold-tolerant down to about negative five," explained William Layton. "So, it hasn't gotten cold enough to hurt the vines themselves. Its slowed us down. By about the first of April, we have to do all our winter pruning, and it really hasn't been that many good days to come out here and work on it."

The Layton's are hopeful for warmer, drier weather, to keep operations flowing smoothly.

"They don't like wet roots, but we've put drainage underground to try and alleviate that problem," said William Layton.

While the Layton's vines can withstand the brutal winter chill, William Layton noted, "Even in this area, people that grow some different vines, they will start to get damaged and 15 degrees, or 10 degrees, which we have hit those temperatures."

And, he warned, the winter hangover is coming.

"Certainly in Virginia and as you go south, those vines expect warmer temperatures, they get cold damaged much easier, and they're probably going to have some losses from those," he said.

It is not just the extreme cold in the east, but also the drought in California that experts say could ultimately lead to higher wine prices.

Another concern for growers is the possibility of major temperature fluctuations in the spring. William Layton said that could lead to some serious damage to their grape vines.

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