Why 2018 could be a lousy year for wine production

MORROW, Ohio -- Sorry, wine lovers -- thanks to hail, frost and fire hitting vineyards across the globe, next year might not be a good one for grown-up grape juice.

Not in terms of quality, mind. Joe Schuchter, director of sales and marketing at the family-owned Ohio winery Valley Vineyards, said he expects the 2018 yield to be just as delicious as any other. 

There just might be a lot less of it.

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"This year was very odd," Schuchter said. "The more delicate grapes, the Cabernets, are fine. The native grapes like Concord, which normally you can't kill, those were frosted. That's a complete flip we haven't seen in 20 years."

According to Schuchter, vineyards in Europe were damaged by harsh cold and storms throughout 2017, and some of their Californian counterparts felt the teeth of ongoing wildfires burning across the state. Even in Ohio, frost affected Valley Vineyards' ability to harvest the amount of grapes its owners expected from their 100 acres of vineyards.

In a typical year, Schuchter said, they would get 1.3 million pounds of grapes from that land. This year, they harvested 1 million pounds -- still a lot of grapes, but those 300,000 missing pounds will affect their bottom line.

Obviously, it takes years for grapes to become wine, so 2018 wines won't be on your table during 2018. 

"You'll still see the supply of wine from California, here, New York and France," Schuchter said. "They just won't give the big discounts, say at Christmas, to rotate vintages."

Although it will be years before wines produced during this pinch make it into stores, Schuchter projected prices might rise right away as growers attempt to brace for the day when the limited supply of 2018 wines hit shelves.

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