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Local Vineyards Needing A Break From The Rain

Jaclyn Driscoll takes a closer look at what July's wet weather did to the grapes growing in the area. (WICS)

July of 2016 was one of the wettest Julys on record. That’s important for an agricultural based community.

Newschannel 20’s Jaclyn Driscoll takes a closer look at what all that rain did to the grapes growing in the area.

“No rain. We can get by without it,” said Vixen Hill Winery owner, Gene Pence.

When you think of central Illinois, grapes aren’t usually a crop that comes to mind. But, in the village of Palmyra there are two tucked away vineyards that could use a break from all the rain.

“You don’t want any water in your grape when you’re getting ready to crush them; that affects the taste, everything,” said Larry Fairfield, owner of Poss Land Vineyard.

Typically Vixen Hills produces about 2 tons of grapes, but with an early rainy season in 2015 and a wet July this year, that production will be decreased by over half.

“Last year’s root saturation and canopy loss, this year is a renewal year for my fruiting spurs,” said Pence.

Humidity is another issue for vineyards, creating something called ‘bunch rot’ for the grapes.

“Fortunately the rains have come at a time where I can get my sprays on in a timely fashion so I see very little damage on the grape clusters,” said Pence.

But despite a challenging growing season, Pence says you shouldn't feel the effects when you come to the winery. He is going to buy local grapes to make up for any loss, to make sure there's enough wine to go around.

With the early rain in 2015, 2016 looked to be a rebuilding year, but if we can finish dry, it’s 2017 that will be the most fruitful.

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