Soggy weather has local vintners worried - WDAM-TV 7-News, Weather, Sports-Hattiesburg, MS

Soggy weather has local vintners worried

Grapes from Michael Amigoni's vineyards Grapes from Michael Amigoni's vineyards
KANSAS CITY, MO (KCTV) -

You might not realize it, but the wine industry in Missouri is a billion-plus dollar annual business. There are more than 100 wineries in the Show Me state supporting some 14,000 jobs. Right now, Mother Nature is not playing nice with the state's wine grapes.

"This was a challenging vintage right out of the box," said Michael Amigoni.

Amigoni operates Amigoni Vineyard and Winery with a tasting room on the West Bottoms and vineyards about 30-miles east of Kansas City.

Amigoni said he's seen other vintages that started out wet like this one, then the weather cleared up and the grapes, and harvest, turned out great. Amigoni's not so sure how his five and a half acres of nine different grape varieties will fare this year.

"We're spraying like crazy to try and prevent rot and mildew," Amigoni said. In wet years like this one, those are two of the biggest problems the grapes face. If the rainy pattern continues, the vines become increasingly susceptible.

"I have had an outpouring of small growers wanting to know how I control the mildew and rot. I consult with them. The chemicals and techniques are trade secrets, but I let go a little to help new and upcoming vineyards not lose their entire crop," Amigoni shared.

Although most people don't know it, prior to Prohibition, Missouri was the second largest wine producing state in the country. Of course, the number one producing state back then is even more surprising. It was Ohio. Of course, that has nothing do to with our soggy spring, though it does put some perspective on just how important Missouri's wine industry has been. Bad weather can lead to a bad vintage, and that's bad for business.

"A truly awful year can cost me quite a bit. For example, my Cabernet Franc sells for $25 a bottle, and we make 125 cases of it. That's $37,500, and that's just one grape. The Cabernet Sauvignon is worth another $30,000 if it goes bad," Amigoni lamented.

Of course, it's only barely the middle of June, so we are a long way from harvest, with a lot of potentially sunny and warm weather in between.

Grape growers and winemakers are farmers, and as such, have to take the practical approach and deal with the hand the weather deals them.

"This isn't my first rodeo, and there's no way it will get to the point of losing the entire crop. That is, unless it rains every few days for the rest of the season, and that is unpredictable, but also highly unlikely," Amigoni stated.

Also, consider this. No matter how soggy it gets in Missouri for the rest of summer, it could always be worse. Take Bordeaux, France for example. The famed wine region, home to some of the most highly prized, and highly priced, bottlings in the world just suffered through torrential rain and hail storms this week, storms that destroyed nearly 1500 acres of wine grapes and severely damaged another 2500.

The French government is expected to declare a State of Natural Catastrophe similar to a State of Disaster declaration in the U.S. What's a little, or even a lot, of rain compared to that?

Copyright 2014 KCTV (Meredith Corp.) All rights reserved

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