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Idaho winegrape crop survives close call

11/25/2011

Idaho winegrape crop survives close call

'It was a nail-biting season, but the outlook for the wine is great'

By SEAN ELLIS

Capital Press

Because of a cold spring and late start to summer, Idaho's grapes took their time ripening this year and the state's winegrape crop survived a close call.

Harvest was pushed back and lower temperatures started moving in, but late-season weather cooperated and industry officials say grape quality is excellent, even though total production was down.

"It was a nail-biting season, but the outlook for the wine is great," said Melanie Krause, co-owner of Cinder winery.

While weather in June was abnormally cool, October weather in Idaho's main grape-growing region in southwest Idaho was unusually moderate, said Huston Vineyards owner Gregg Alger.

"It looks like we had good quality," he said. "We had a beautiful year."

Alger said the region averages its first frost on Oct. 10, but this year's initial frost didn't occur until Halloween night.

"We had good growing conditions pretty much the whole month of October," he said. "We were so far behind because of the cool June that we needed that time."

While the state's early and mid-season winegrape varieties turned out fine, there was a lot of concern heading into October that the late-season varieties would have enough time to reach maturity. When it gets too cold, grapes stop producing the desired sugar levels.

Read More at http://www.capitalpress.com/content/SE-wine-harvest-112511