Dry weather helps NC's winemaking industry

by: Katie Virtue Updated:

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ROWAN COUNTY, N.C. - The dry weather is actually helping one of North Carolina's fastest growing industries -- winemaking.

Vintner Amie Boudoin, who owns and runs Morgan Ridge Vineyards in Gold Hill, N.C., may be one of the few people in the area hoping the rain never comes back.  Her seven acres of grapes will thrive during every dry day during the next three to six weeks.

“You actually want them to be raisining up a little bit, because that's where the flavors and the sugars will start concentrating up,” Boudoin said.

This spring and summer's rain was adequate to help the grapes reach a good size. Now, drought conditions through August could help deepen the flavors, leading to a better glass of wine later.

According to the U.S. drought monitor, several counties in the Charlotte region are “abnormally dry” right now, with rainfall 3 inches below normal so far this year.

Compare that to the summer of 2007. Nearly the entire state of North Carolina was in moderate to severe drought, and the lack of rainfall led to the highest quality wine in years.

“If it would happen to dry out, then we could look at harvesting. The chardonnay would be first in two, two and a half weeks,” Boudoin said.

Thunderstorms are the biggest issue facing growers right now.

An inch to an inch and a half of rain soaked vineyards across Rowan and Stanly counties on Wednesday. Standing water can lead to root rot or a less flavorful grape, and a hail storm could devastate the crop.

But what about the years that are too dry, even for the grapes?

“The irrigation is a small insurance policy,” Boudoin said. “But we've not used the irrigation system in three years.”

More information:
Drought monitor