This year’s drought has spelled nothing but disaster for many farmers in the Midwestern United States. But those who own vineyards are looking on the bright side: this kind of weather has the potential to bring on better tasting wine.
That much is good, because the drought certainly isn’t increasing the volume in vineyards. According to an Associated Press report, many vineyard crops have been severely damaged and burned by the excessive dry heat of the region. Still, those in the Midwestern wine industry – an industry that’s growing and hoping for increased global credibility in its field – have high hopes for the crops that are left:
"The fruit will be better, overall, for reds and whites, then last year, when it was wet," said Tony Debevc, who has a 170-acre Ohio vineyard. "If it continues to be dry like this, the wine industry will be better overall. And personally, we can expand in the red category, and it wouldn't necessarily be a bad thing."
Optimism is always good, and in this case it may also be necessary. Some winemakers cited in the article are conjecturing that this new heat may be less a sign of temporary drought and more a sign of climate changes to come – a boon for those cultivating red wine varietals:
“Certainly, here in Ohio, and northern Ohio, and the Midwest, I think our heat days are increasing, our sun days are increasing," [Breitenbach Winery owner Duke] Bixler said. "I think it is a permanent thing."
Diego Meraviglia, vice president and education director for the North American Sommelier Association, chimed in on the matter with the opinion that the wine resulting from the drought could be quite flavorful indeed – though he also expressed concerns about both longevity and complexity:
This year's wines from America's heartland "will be nice, fruity and very approachable and soft on the pallet," predicted [Meraviglia].
But he believes the drought has cost some grape varieties complexities that may hinder the wines' abilities to age, meaning "you have to drink them within a year or they'll go bad."
"It'll be enjoyable right off the bat," he said. "But real connoisseurs who drink aged wine will be disappointed."
It’s certainly fair to add those reservations, as they’ll certainly make a difference to wine enthusiasts and professionals alike. But hopefully the wine will live up to the highest expectations. For one thing, in a drought like the one the Midwest is currently experiencing, any good news or benefits are more than welcome – and if this climate shift turns out to be more than temporary, the ability to thrive despite changing conditions will perhaps at least serve these vineyards well.