In 2017, the United States suffered the most weather-inflicted natural disasters in a single year since records have been kept. Eighteen separate events, ranging from tornadoes to hailstorms, from floods to wildfires, exceeded $1 billion in estimated damages, with the total weather-related damage for the year totalling more than $300 billion and climbing. Much of the country was considerably warmer than average, with several parts of the country experiencing severe drought, while others experienced record inundations of rain, thanks in part to one of the most active hurricane seasons on record.
So how did wine fare in one of the wildest weather years in recent memory? I reached out to vintners across the country to see what the 2017 vintage looks like.
‘Weather was moderate throughout the growing season which helped retain acidity’, says Kelly Koch, winemaker at Macari Estate on the North Fork of Long Island in New York. ‘Harvest was very good on the North Fork, and the year was similar in terms of quality for the past few vintages except for a decrease in yield due to sporadic rain events during flowering. We brought in 14% less than 2016 and 19% less than 2015.’
Spring rains also affected flowering in Virginia wine country after a somewhat early bud break, reducing yields of more sensitive varieties such as Merlot. Virginia, while being a lesser known wine region, has made significant strides in recent years and is now producing very high quality wines, in particular from Cabernet Franc.
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Image of freshly picked fruit from the Rockgarden Vineyard in Walla Walla, Washington courtesy of Buty Wines