VIRGINIA

Cold temperatures haven't affected Va. wineries - yet

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PURCELLVILLE, Va. (WJLA) - Wineries across northern Virginia say they keeping getting the same question from customers and visitors: Are these cold temperatures bad for vineyards?

Photo: Christian Haugen via Flickr

Winemakers say it’s too early to tell.

This January and February, the Washington region has experienced the coldest temperatures in a decade, and across northern Virginia, vineyards are keeping a close eye on their crop.

“If they are green that means it will produce grapes for the season,” says Sebastien Marquet, Doukenie Winery winemaker. “You can see that the bud is still green.”

But so far this winter, Marquet says temperatures have not consistently dropped low enough to do any damage.

“During the dormancy stage, the vine shut down,” he says.

Unlike Napa Valley, wineries acknowledge that Virginia’s changing climate often changes the flavor of each vintage.

“A really hot, dry year you’re gonna have grapes that are very lush and big and bold and jammy. With a sugar content that’s higher, your alcohol content is higher,” says Kim Sullivan of Sunset Hills Vineyard.

But local wineries believe that inconsistency keeps customers coming back.

“They want to see how it differs year to year,” says Maria Canora of Doukenie Winery. “I think that’s the beauty of Virginia actually, you never know what you’re gonna get.”

Each year, Virginia winemakers expect to lose about 10 percent of their crop because of weather conditions, wildlife, bugs and other factors like mildew and disease. But this year, they’re hoping the cold weather could actually benefit their crop by keeping pests away, resulting in a more beautiful, bountiful harvest.

“I’m more concerned about frost in May than I am about a cold winter,” says Marquet.

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