The dry conditions in parts of Iowa this year have been a mixed blessing for wineries.
Iowa Wine Growers Association, marketing director, Nicole Eilers says the drought has led to some loss in production, but it also has a positive. “The yield is down a bit. The quality of the grapes should be fantastic,” Eilers says. “If there is a silver lining to all of this — when grapes are in drier conditions, you get more concentrated flavors — which turns out to be better flavors of wine.”
The derecho on August 10th also made an impact on the grape crop in parts of the state. “That was tough for a lot of vineyards in eastern Iowa. There were some that had significant trellis damage. Grapes are pretty resilient, so a lot of them were able to rebuild the trellises and pull the grapes back up and continue to harvest those. I know some use mechanical harvesters and that’s kind of tricky to figure out,” according to Eilers.
Another impact of the drought has been an increase in problems with birds looking to grapes as a meal. “They’re getting through the netting. They are not responding to the deterrents that vineyards are using,” she explains. “Because there is no other food source, there’s not as many insects and things for them to eat.”
Eilers says the birds can eat up a crop quickly. “They would come and destroy a crop overnight almost, it seemed like,” Eilers says. “That’s just kind of goes par with the drier conditions. That’s just one of the additional things you have to deal with in a drier year.”
Eilers says the dry conditions combined with the coronavirus pandemic have hit the industry hard and she expects some wineries will not be able to survive into next year.