68° F
Mostly Cloudy
Mostly Cloudy

Winery expects to lose up to 50 percent of crop after damaging winter

By Jennifer Hoff,
Published On: Apr 29 2014 09:59:33 PM CDT
Updated On: Apr 30 2014 07:18:34 AM CDT

Jennifer Hoff

Grape bud at Wollersheim Winery


Grape owners are finally getting an idea of just how bad this winter was, and Wollersheim Winery owners expect to lose up to 50 percent of their crop.

Owner Phillipe Coquard said he’s used to Wisconsin winters, but his crop couldn’t stand a chance against this year’s record-breaking stretch of below-zero temperatures.

“A lot of the buds did not make it through the winter,” Coquard said. “It’s not so much the extreme temperature, we’ve seen 25 to 35 below zero, but we’ve never seen a winter that lingered and lasted this long.”

This year, the area was at or below zero for 42 days and is ranked the 11th-coldest winter on record, affecting Coquard’s crop like never before.

He could lose 30 to 50 percent of his grapes that have been planted on the property since the 1970s.

“Right now, it doesn’t look good,” he said.

When Coquard surveyed the buds in January, a majority were black inside, not green, and already dead.

In 2012, the grapes bloomed ahead of schedule, but a machine named the Frost Dragon saved most of them from a spring frost. Coquard only lost 10 percent of his crop then.

“You can’t fight winter. That’s a fact of life, that’s being a farmer,” he said.

Now, he’ll patiently wait out this rough patch and hope for brighter beginnings next season.

“The grapes we grow are usually suited for that kind of winter and this is extremely unusual and we hope it doesn’t happen again,” Coquard said.

The damaged grapes will impact the popular Domaine du Sac wine and new brandy the winery is releasing this weekend for the second time.

Besides Wisconsin, Coquard said winter weather hit 40 other grape-growing states, like Ohio, New York and Pennsylvania, especially hard. He’ll know better by July just how many grapes he lost.

  • iOS 8

    From Apple

    Best new Apple iOS 8 features

    Apple's iOS 8 is here, and it's packed with slick new features. Take a look at some of the best changes to the latest version of the popular mobile operating system.

  • Testing for Ebola

    REUTERS/Misha Hussain

    Common myths about Ebola

    At least eight Ebola aid workers and journalists were reportedly murdered in a remote village in Guinea in a brutal example of growing distrust locals have of foreigners coming to help stem the mushrooming health crisis. Take a look at common myths about the deadly virus.

  • Police lights file 2

    Ridiculous 911 calls

    Have you ever considered calling 911 because of a massive spider in your house? How about because a McDonald's employee got your order wrong? Take a look at some of the strangest reasons people have recently called 911.


    Events calendar

    Looking for something to do? Visit Channel 3000's events section featuring dining, food, music and family-friendly events throughout Madison and the surrounding area.

  • Get your weather app and WISC-TV3 deliver local forecasts, live radar, school closings and alerts for Madison and South Central Wisconsin to iOS or Android devices.

  • Learn more about WISC-TV

    Meet the News 3 staff, learn about our newscasts, search our job postings and find out how to contact us.