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Niagara grape crop sees less damage than expected

It may have felt like the middle of summer today, but Niagara’s grape growers are still worried about what happened to their vines in the frigid winter we had. John Neufeld has been walking through his vineyard the past few days keeping his fingers crossed, and hoping he could see the buds in his Merlot and Sauvignon Blanc vineyards beginning to push.“This one hasn’t pushed. You’re looking at 10-20% damage on this plant,” he says. John has 100 acres of grapes around his palatine hills winery in Niagara-on-the-Lake. There are 17,000 acres of wine grapes in Ontario, but growers expected the damage to be more widespread, given the relentless blast of cold weather we had.Some days were so cold and windy, even the wind machines were useless.There was up to 40% bud damage on the more fragile varieties. The cost of a bottle of Merlot may rise, but growers say it could have been much worse.Most of them remember the winter of 2005, when the Merlot crop in Niagara was practically wiped out.

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