Tennessee's grape crop has weathered several rounds of frost, along with lots of rainy, cloudy days this year, and that has led to a harvest nearly a month later than normal.
That's actually a good thing for the vineyards and wine lovers.
"We've processed over about 200 tons of Tennessee grapes so far, and we've got about another 150 tons of grapes to go," said Kip Summers, with Arrington Vineyards.
That amounts to enough grapes to make about 200,000 bottles of wine. It's the biggest crop in 10 years of growing grapes at Arrington Vineyards, where they will mix 50 tons of their own grapes with other grapes from across the state and the West Coast.
Now, crews are hustling to get all of them into the crusher and the press. Tennessee growers are off to a late start because of a cool, wet summer.
"If you can't go outside and get a tan, there's not a lot of sunshine, and that means there's not a lot of ripening going on. The grapevines need sunshine to make sugar in the grapes and to mature the grapes," Summers said.
A late frost in May jeopardized crops from the start this year. Then, summer rains almost cost Arrington Vineyards and others.
"If the rains would've continued, then we probably wouldn't have had a crop because the grapes would've just rotted and fell off the vines," Summers said.
Instead, the longer maturity has produced a sweeter grape. So, this is a case of good things come to those who wait.
"Because of the conditions - the cooler conditions, and the delayed harvest and then the perfect conditions at harvest," Summers said, "We are really looking at outstanding flavors this year."
But wine lovers won't get to taste the great stuff quite yet. It still has to go into a tank to ferment and then age in a barrel for 2 1/2 years.
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