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Whether the weather: Vineyard owners battle the heat (access required)

By Caitlin Coakley For North Carolina vineyards, Mother Nature can be a cruel mistress. An early frost, an abundance of rain — the weather can often make or break a crop. But this year vineyard owners are cautiously optimistic despite — or maybe because of — the heat. “We did have some dry weather early in the summer, but now we’re getting some rain to balance out the sugars,” said Mark Terry, general manager and winemaker at Westbend Vineyards in Lewisville and vice president of the North Carolina Winegrowers Association. “The dryness is actually an advantage … because you’re getting more concentrated natural flavors. Too much water can dilute those flavors.” This summer’s record temperatures prompted Sara Spayd, viticulture specialist for the North Carolina State University Cooperative Extension, to issue an advisory July 7 for vineyard owners to monitor their vines for any symptoms of water stress, such as wilting leaves and “leaf scorch,” which occurs when the leaves start to dry out.

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