Drought conditions creating challenges for Florence winery

The heat we’ve seen in recent weeks is impacting crops in western Massachusetts including grapes, but what does this mean for your favorite local wineries?
Published: Aug. 5, 2022 at 11:16 AM EDT
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(WGGB/WSHM) - The heat we’ve seen in recent weeks is impacting crops in western Massachusetts including grapes, but what does this mean for your favorite local wineries?

Larry Godard is a winemaker and owner of Mineral Hills Winery in Florence. Godard and his family have been running the Hampshire County winery for over a decade, surviving the COVID-19 pandemic, but now, the weather brings on a new challenge for the business.

“We’ve survived, small ones in the past. It’s hard for me to recall if we have drought as bad…We just have to deal with what we got and hope for rain,” Godard noted.

Weeks of dry weather and heat are taking a toll on some of Godard’s grapes. Western Mass News asked him how much rain is needed to produce the perfect crop to make a wine that’s toast worthy.

“It’s a catch 22. You need just the right amount of rain. A couple rain storms, an inch or less a week preferably just at night, would be ideal. Just look at the grapes plump up, just so that the progression of the ripening happens, so that everything is happening in the fall and not too soon. When you open too soon and you get too much heat and too much sun too fast, you can get some bitter off flavors,” Godard noted.

However, Godard told us the current drought in western Massachusetts isn’t expected to impact his wine production at the moment. Although management told us they are all, next year could be a different story.

“The wine business is your get your crops in the fall, you pick your grapes in the fall, and you’re making wine over the course of the next six months, 12 months, 18 months, sometimes 24 months, so you may not see the full effect of the summer’s heat wave until a year from now,” Godard explained.

Godard said he’s not too worried yet and told us they can try to work with the crops they are able to harvest.

“…Have to do some magic in the winery to make up for these deficiencies in the groups that come in. What you do want is perfect groups coming in the door and it doesn’t always happen,” Godard said.

They can supplement the supply with grapes grown elsewhere if needed, but right now, Godard said they are hoping for a normal fall and are rooting for the rain.