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Mother Nature, Grape Growers and Farmers

Last week we visited wineries on Maryland’s Eastern Shore and two wineries in Delaware. Reports of the hurricane (Irene) and tropical storm potential was a concern at some of the wineries. At one winery on Thursday they were about to pick their white grapes which had ripened early; the winemaker was in no hurry to pick the reds. We had tasted a couple of the grapes and the seeds were brown but the winemaker had recently tested the brix level and knew they were not ready.

All week we wondered what was happening to the wineries along the coast. According to some experts, it takes a week of dry weather for grapes to lose the water they absorb from rain. Of course that depends on the soil and drainage capability in the vineyard.

While I was growing up on a small farm, some might call a gentleman’s farm, I remember the agony of adults wondering if the cut alfalfa would be dry enough before a rain. For a long time, my mother would remember the summer, my oldest brother died and how she prayed to him and God that the already baled hay would be in the barn before the rain. Those prayers were answered.

Farming and grape growing have a lot in common. Both are subject to Mother nature’s innate ability to change on a whim. Too much rain, too much sun, too much wind and a variety of things which mankind cannot control can all affect the final crop, whether it be corn, hay or grapes.

Winemakers might say that the biggest difference between the the farmer growing grapes and hay or corn, is the affect that pruning and harvesting can do to the quality of the end product – wine. However, cheese makers can also make the claim that what the cows, goats or sheep eat can affect the cheese produced from the milk.

Consumers should understand the difficulties farmers and wine growers face in growing great products. Mother Nature always has a hand to play.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on this.

Cheers! Kathy

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