Bitter Cold Could Hurt Local Vines

The next couple of nights could have a devastating impact on the Essex County wine industry.

Temperatures are predicted to be as low as minus 21 Friday night, with a windchill of minus 25.

That's not only damaging to buds, but could kill the actual vines.

Michael Obrien at Cooper's Hawk Vineyard says they're taking what action they can to prevent the damage.

He says the main technique is huge fans that move the air.

"Ground temperature is a little different than the 30-foot or 40-foot above the ground temperature is," says Obrien "So we could range between 2-degrees up to 5-degrees difference so the fans actually bring the warm air down to the ground level to kind of help prevent those extreme colds"

He says they begin running the fans at the danger point of the most sensitive varieties.

"Every single varietal from Cab Franc to Merlot to Syrah have a different what we call hardiness temperature" explains Obrien "so they can range from minus 18 all the way up to minus 22 so depending on the variety right now we're turning the fans on at 18"

He says they're bracing for the kind of impact they had in 2014 and 15.

"Let's say we had a really bad and it gets really cold in the next couple of days or in the next month or so we could actually have no grape harvest this year the biggest thing for that is we have no wine to produce"

am800-news-EPIC-wineries-sign-january-2018

EPIC Wine Country sign (courtesy Facebook)

Obrien says all the wineries in Essex County work together and he expects they'll all be spending sleepless nights until the weekend, when temperatures moderate.

He adds this is still fairly early in the winter and there's 2 months to go.