Is wet weather bad news for wine lovers? - WCAX.COM Local Vermont News, Weather and Sports-

Is wet weather bad news for wine lovers?

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Ken Albert has been in the wine industry for quite some time.

"I started growing grapes in my backyard probably 25 years ago. I had my normal day job then, and sort of got hooked on it," explained Albert, who owns Shelburne Vineyard.

And his years of experience are helpful dealing with weather extremes this season.

"We started with preventive spraying before the rain started, so we got a little bit of a leg up on protection," Albert said.

Without the spraying, the grapes would look very different.

"They'd be spotted with all sorts of black rot and mildew, and maybe half of the grapes would be gone," Albert said.

Vineyards that didn't spray before the rain could suffer.

"The people that didn't spray early are going to have a challenge this year," Albert said.

And Albert says he's not in the clear just yet.

"Is there some latent disease that might manifest itself in August?" he wondered.

One of the problems with all the recent rains is the overgrown vines. This means a lot of energy was used in the vines, instead of the grapes.

"The rain probably ignored the development of flavor in the grapes, so we're hoping for a normal weather from here on in," Albert said.

Once the rain ended, extreme heat followed-- good news for grapes.

"It may not be great for us people, but I think the grapes loved it," Albert said.

The heat allowed the grapes to dry out and any sunshine helped out, too.

"We need the sun," Albert said. "The sun on the leaves will basically ripen the grapes."

Beetles can be another obstacle.

"We reluctantly sprayed an insecticide for the beetles," Albert said. "We want to see how bad they're gonna be."

But Albert says the challenges are worth it.

"We've had people skeptical about growing grapes in Vermont," he said. "And then they taste the wine and say really it's quite good."

Megan Abbott, a tourist from Massachusetts, agrees.

"It's delicious, very, very good, very easy to drink," Abbott said. "And I love white wine so this is wonderful."

For Albert, it's words like these that make growing grapes worth the effort.

But he reminds us that even though his grapes look good right now: "It isn't over until it's over."

Having sunny, warm weather over the next several weeks will be critical in producing flavorful grapes.

The grapes should ripen by mid-September. After they're processed, it can take up to a year for the wine to mature.

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