Toronto

Frost worries Niagara vineyards

Southern Ontario's early spring has exposed Niagara's vineyards to damage. Experts say the vines began to bud in the warm weather and are now vulnerable to frost.

For lovers of Ontario wines, southern Ontario's early spring may not have been a blessing.

Grape growers in Niagara say the mild weather in March and early April — followed by recent colder temperatures — has left their vines vulnerable.

Scott Jones, the manager of a Niagara vineyard, says concerns are high because the grape vines began to bud and are now exposed to frost.

"We're worried about the frost we had last week," said Bill Redelmeier, the owner of Southbrook Vineyards. "We're worried it's done some damage."

Keith Brown, spokesperson for Inniskillin Wines, says grape growers are on alert. 

"A really bad frost in spring, when you get an early spring like we're seeing this year, it could mean 80, 90, 100 per cent loss," Brown said.

"We have the wind machines that help us out on cold events," said Jones. "So they can help bring the warm air around."

But the 10-metre high fans cost more than $30,000 to install and thousands more to keep running.

"This year they've become a necessity at local vineyards," he said.

The next few of weeks are crucial, say the experts, until the warm weather arrives for good.

Peach and apricot growers have also been hit hard.  Their trees bloomed last month.

Corrections

  • The article originally stated wind machines cost more than $300,000. In fact they cost more than $30,000.
    May 26, 2015 10:23 AM ET

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