Warm Weather Affects Wine Crop

Reporter: Heather Rosenbaum | Videographer: Jonathan Merryman

Chatham, VA -- One big downside to this warm weather is the possible impact it could have on area vineyards. This much heat this early can do a number on their crops.

Workers at Tomahawk Mill Winery in Chatham are certainly concerned. They say they are usually working in the cold right now wearing two pairs of socks and gloves. But while it's nice to work in this weather, the grapes don't like it one bit.

Corky Medaglia, owner of Tomahawk Mill Winery, always says:

"When God gives you lemons you make lemonade. And when God gives you grapes,you make wine."

But within his 17 years working the vineyards, he has never seen a winter like this one.

"Sap is coming up because the temperatures are going up. And this guy thinks it's spring time," said Medaglia.

So the fate of his year depends on the weather for the next month. Ideally, he would just get an early season with grapes that harvest a month sooner.

"Which means it will be hotter, which means the grapes will be maybe be less flavorful. Not great but good," said Medaglia.

The unthinkable would be a big frost that could ruin up to 75 % of his crops, costing him thousands. So their motto has become: The best kind of freeze is no freeze at all.

" Because then we don't have to worry about the cold killing the plants," said Ethan Reynolds, who works at Tomahawk Mill.

"We can't keep this temperature up. It's mid March. We've had frosts in April here," said Medaglia.

ABC 13 Meteorologist Sean Sublette says the chance of a frost is a little greater than 50/50. So, at Tomahawk, they're working around the clock, trying to finish the winter work a little sooner to catch up, while hoping their crops will make it through April.

"This is farming and you don't know. You really don't know," said Medaglia.

They say the ideal situation at this point is to have cool nights, warm days, and obviously no freezing temperatures. Even with that, Corky predicts 2012 may not be the best year for wine.