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Harsh Winter Sapping State's Wine Grape Crops

Raul Lieberwirth / Flickr

Indiana Vineyards are losing as much as 75-percent of their grape yields this year because of last winter's deep freeze.

Winemakers like David Simmons, co-owner of Simmons Winery near Columbus, knew they were going to take a hit, but are just now discovering exactly how much they’ve lost as their grape vines begin to bud.

"It's been a very difficult winter, we've had a lot of bud damage on the vines," Simmons says.

The amount of crop damage depends largely on what types of grapes farmers had planted. Certain varieties, such as Chamborcin, are less hearty than others.

The majority of Simmons' crop was made up of these more delicate grapes, which died when the weather hit negative temperatures.

Ultimately, he says, the freeze cost him tens of thousands of dollars in damage, both in lost grapes and in the labor and time it takes to grow them back.

'We know there's going to be a lot of labor involved in training and regrowth of all these vines. For next year, we may not even have a crop of them," he says.

Wineries across the state are experiencing similar losses, but many winemakers, including Simmons, say they’ll supplement what they have left by importing more grapes from other states so they still have enough wine to sell later this year.