Local wineries fear warm weather may not stick around

CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, Va. (WRIC) — Did you know warm spells like the one we’re currently experiencing could be devastating to local wineries?

8News on Thursday visited Ashton Creek Vineyard and Event Center located in Chester.

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The past few years, their state-of-the-art facilities were used as an event center to host weddings and parties, but now the vineyard side is starting to take off.

“We started farming about six years ago, last year was our first year in harvest,” said Rachel Thibault who is a manager at Ashton Creek.

This year the anticipation is already building; Ashton Creek is looking forward to their 2nd successful harvest.

“We are growing Chardonnay, Petit Manseng, Merlot, Maybach, Viognier, and Vidal Blanc,” Thibault said.

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But with all the warm weather the area has seen this early in the year, Thibault is concerned.

We love the sunshine just as much as everybody else and we hope that it brings out lots of people to come enjoy the weather, but we don’t want our grapes to enjoy it too much,” Thibault said.

When the weather this time of year remains warm, more buds could appear any day. The problem is, if this warm weather isn’t here to stay and we snap back into winter-like weather….

“The cold is going to kill the first bud,” Thibault said.

And a cold snap here in Virginia is still possible.

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“One of the big issues for our wineries out in the western part of our state is that we could see a freeze up until March 20-30, or a frost until about April 10, so we’re really not out of the woods yet,” 8News Meteorologist Matt DiNardo explained.

Back at Ashton Creek, they can only hope this weather is here to stay.

“We can only cross our fingers and hope that the warm weather stays,” Thibault said.

Ashton Creek says if the first bud does happen to get killed off, they will hopefully be able to harvest from the second bud, But losing that first bud would bring down their yield.

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