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Aug 30, 2011 9:28 PM by Monica Quintero

Freezing temps earlier this year hit local grape growers hard; will that impact harvest?

The freezing temperatures earlier this year hit some local grape growers hard.

Back in April, freezing temperatures caused millions of dollars of damage. As a result earlier this month, the US Department of Agriculture issued Disaster Designations for both San Luis Obispo and Banta Barbara Counties.

Ken Volk has been involved in the wine industry on the Central Coast since 1977. His vineyard is based in Santa Maria and he also grows grapes in paso robles. Turns out, Tuesday was the first day of harvest for Kenneth Volk Vineyards and already, you can see the impact of April's freezing temperatures. "This year, we got a lot of clusters that are considerably smaller," said Volk. "It was a hard freeze. We had as much 14 hours of subfreezing temperatures. In some cases, temperatures fell below 25 degrees and anything that's green basically got killed."

In fact, it also almost wiped out a couple of his varieties. "The growing season it's been challenging. It cost me a good 85 percent of my fruit source," said Volk. Less fruit means less wine. "I'm making very, very little Blaufrankisch in 2011 because I lost my fruit," said Volk.

But a sign from above has him cautiously optimistic. "First day of crush to have a pair of eagles flying around the winery, that's a really good sign of a good vintage," said Volk. He also says late rains and cooler temperatures delayed everything in most vineyard operations by two to three weeks. The hope now the weather will cooperate. We also spoke with the San Luis Obispo County Vintners Association and were told harvest season kicks off for most in two weeks.



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