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Weather Effects on Winemaking
by Megan Reilly
For BaltimoreStories.com

Lynne Basignani lists the weather to be one of the most important parts of the winemaking process. Unfortunately, since the weather isn’t something that can be controlled, grape farmers have to remain optimistic. “If you don’t have a hot enough growing season, the grapes won’t ripen at a proper time and consequently, you may have to pick them before they’re completely ripe. This will affect the wine,” Basignani says.

In comparison to other farmers, droughts are wonderful news for grape growers. According to Basignani, while others farmers were struggling during the lack of rain in 2001 and 2002, winemakers were ecstatic. This is why Rose Fiore says they are trying to spread the word to all farmers and get them interested in grapes. In the event of a drought, when they are losing all of their crop, it will still be possible for them to have something.

Al Copp of
Woodhall Wine Cellars says that a perfect example of the effects of rain came in 1995. “It was a dry year, a wonderful growing season. There was enough rain in the spring to get started and enough maintenance rain in the summer to keep them (the grapes) stressed, but not overstressed,” he says. The winery picks grapes from the land they use in Carroll County during two weekends. On the Wednesday prior to the first picking, it rained. Copp says it takes three days for the rain to go down into the soil, up through the roots and into the berries. They picked the grapes that Saturday and Sunday and then finished picking the following weekend, 10 days after the rain. The wine made from the last grapes picked turned out so well they called it Copernica Reserve and sold it for $25 per bottle. The other wine made from the first grapes picked was still nice but a bit diluted and sold for $12 per bottle. “That’s the difference the rain makes at harvest time,” Copp added.

Lynne Basignani also mentions that hailstorms can wipe out the whole vineyard and a late frost in spring can ruin new shoots starting to grow. “It happened one year with our Chardonnay, we didn’t get a crop,” she says. Rose Fiore adds that the humidity in Maryland isn’t beneficial to grape growing, but the hot days and cool nights come in handy.

Regardless of the weather obstacles that grape farmers encounter Maryland, it is still possible and proven to make fantastic wines. As Lynne Basignani says, “All you have to have is a good winemaker and a grower that knows they can grow good grapes by being meticulous with vineyard.”

Related Stories

Basignani Winery: Spring has sprung and the Basignani family is hard at work meticulously caring for their crop of grapes and preparing to bottle wine.

Differences in Napa Valley: There are many reasons as to why Napa Valley has been so successful in the wine business.

Fiore Winery: The European family vineyards are called La Fellicitta, and the couple decided to honor their roots, and name their vineyard the same.

Welcome to the Wineries: Welcome to the Wineries, is about Basignani Winery, Fiore Winery and Woodhall Wine Cellars. It concentrates on the history, goals and accomplishments of each winery.

Woodhall Wine Cellars: Woodhall Wine Cellars is the winery that almost didn’t succeed.