Indiana wines expected to benefit from good grape harvest

December 5, 2011

WEST LAFAYETTE, Ind. - The wet spring, hot summer and warm, dry fall were not optimal conditions for most Indiana crops, but they were ideal for grape growers.

"The hot summer and extended fall gave Indiana growers plenty of time to let their grapes ripen, which made it a good harvest. And while talking to growers across the state, most of them seem happy with their crop," said Bruce Bordelon, Purdue Extension grape and wine specialist.

East Coast growers were hit by heavy rains and a hurricane this year, and West Coast growers experienced rains during harvest time, which is rare there. These rains can often damage or ruin the grape crop. Midwestern states such as Indiana were fortunate with grape growing weather this year, Bordelon said.

The early spring rains that delayed planting of corn and soybeans did not negatively affect grapes, Bordelon said. 

Since soybeans are usually planted earlier, they most often are harvested before grapes, a situation that increases the number of ladybugs that move into vineyards as they leave the soybean fields, said Christian Butzke, Purdue enology professor. The multicolored Asian lady beetle can ruin the flavor and aroma of wine if they infest the grapes. With late soybean planting this year, ladybugs from the fields were not a problem to grapes.

"Overall, the wines made from this year's crop should be excellent because they were able to ripen gently throughout the summer and well into the fall," Butzke said. "Wines made from this year's crop typically will not go out until later in 2012 for whites and another year for many reds because of the longer aging process. For the final judgment, we will have to wait until the wine is in the glass."

Bordelon said Indiana growers did encounter problems with birds this year. Bird damage was seen in other fruits and vegetables as well. It is hard to know why birds cause more damage some years and little the next.

"It's just something we live with," Bordelon said. 

The total number of wineries and grape production in Indian has doubled in the past six years. There are now 64 wineries, and they should all fare well with the 2011 grape crop, Butzke said. 

Writer: Jeanne Gibson, 765-494-8402, jegibson@purdue.edu  

Source: Bruce Bordelon, 765-494-8212, bordelon@purdue.edu  

              Christian Butzke, 765-494-6500, butzke@purdue.edu

Ag Communications: (765) 494-2722;
Keith Robinson, robins89@purdue.edu
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