Rain, rain and more rain — that was the story of April and May across much of Western New York. What concerned winery and vineyard owners even more was the wet and cool weather when the grapes were blossoming, which were a perfect storm for disease. Farmers stepped up their efforts, spraying fungicides and other products more often to ward off illnesses.
"We had rain of biblical proportions, and that really wasn't too much of an exaggeration," said Donald DeMaison, Long Cliff Vineyards and Winery Inc. president.
"Grapes get less flavorful. They get watered down, basically, diluted," said Cate Banks, the Niagara Wine Trail USA executive director. "A lot of vineyard owners and staff are really breathing a sigh of relief that now things are turning around."
But the wet weather hasn't just been a problem for the vines themselves. They've also seen decreased foot traffic because of Lake Ontario flooding, decreasing the amount of tourism. Winery owners say they've started to make up for those losses in other ways, by offering promotions or expanding their businesses.
While they're waiting to see the fruits of that labor, they say as long as the weather holds with more sun and less rain, they are cautiously optimistic about increased foot traffic and having an average season for grape-growing.