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Valley vineyards adapting to drought

Published: Jul. 25, 2021 at 7:28 PM EDT
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ROCKINGHAM COUNTY, Va. (WHSV) - It has been a dry summer in the valley, and vineyards have been uniquely affected as droughts can both hurt and help them.

“When we have new plantings in the spring and then you have a dry period like this we get hurt, we lose some of those plantings, but the established vines they do just fine, as a matter of fact starting from here through October we’d like it to be dry,” said Curt Hartman, the owner of Bluestone Vineyard.

While older grape vines haven’t been harmed by this year’s drought, vineyards in the area have had to adapt and use drip irrigation to their newest plants.

“We usually don’t use the irrigation at all but this year we have been using it for the younger blocks to make sure that the plants can survive this drought,” said Nikoo Bakhtiar, the owner of CrossKeys Vineyard.

However, as we move from summer into fall, the drought will benefit the fully grown vines.

“If you have less water coming into the vine you have concentration of flavors and sugars and everything else in the grape, so that you get a more flavorful wine if you have a lot of rain it will thin out the juice,” said Curt Hartman.

Different types of grapes also require different amounts of water, which is something vineyards have to keep track of especially during a drought.

“One of our varietals is Viognier and they do not like too much of a drought so we have watered that block a couple of times so far,” said Nikoo Bakhtiar.

Vineyards won’t know the full extent of the plants they’ve lost during the drought until next year when they see which young plants come back.

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