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Freak May Frost Damages 50% of Beneduce's Crop
OK, on the scale of tragedy, especially in the middle of a global pandemic, it's probably kind of low. But Beneduce Vineyards posted a sad update to their Facebook page on May 26:
...On May 9th, we suffered the worst freeze damage we have ever witnessed in our vineyard, resulting in a loss of about 50% of this year’s potential crop. It was a rare advection freeze event, the result of a polar vortex of frigid air coming down from Canada that damaged tens of thousands of acres of crops all along the East Coast.
Most frost events are called radiation frosts, which occur on still nights when cold air settles to the ground and separates from the warm air directly above it - forming an inversion layer. This type of frost is usually avoidable, or at least something we can actively battle with numerous techniques, including hiring helicopters to fly over our vineyards and churn up the inversion layer by pushing warm air down onto the fragile plants below. We had three radiation frost events later that week, some of the latest on record for NJ, and were thankfully able to protect the vines from further damage. But in that single night on May 9th, half of our year’s potential was lost as we watched helplessly from the sidelines....
Whatever your business, watching while half your year's revenue literally dies on the vine and you can't do anything about it is one of the most frightening and heartbreaking things I can imagine.
I'd been wondering what our freakishly freezing weather in early May might mean for local crops. While historical data shows even colder temps for May in the past, I cannot remember a spring where we had so many frost and freeze warnings. This isn't atypical up in the Finger Lakes, where I'm told frost warnings can happen right up till Memorial Day, but A) that's 250 miles north of New Jersey and B) they're prepared for the possibility.
The good news is the vines apparently aren't permanently damaged, so hopefully they'll be able to yield again in the future. Also the 2019 vintage was harvested months ago, and I'm sure the majority of it is bottled. But if you're in New Jersey, New York or Pennsylvania, and you're in the market for some wine, please consider going to their website and ordering a shipment. I'm thinking I might do some contactless curbside pickup and take a nice ride out there this weekend.
In their honor, I decided to open up my 2015 Blue 2, short for blaufränkisch!
Great deep garnet color with just a little haze. I got a little bit of blackcurrant and blueberry on the nose, along with a touch of very bright olive. The wine had great balance, especially after chilling. (The alcohol is too heavy if the wine is too warm. As temps head into the 80s F here in New Jersey this weekend, keep your wines cool!) On the palate it's almost savory with some woodsy flavor and mellowed-out blueberries. Even several minutes after drinking, when I popped it back in the fridge for some more chilling, I had this nice bright juice taste and feeling up around the top of my mouth!
With all this great acidity, it'd pair so well with a lot of food. I'm thinking a leaner cut of steak would be ideal.
There's really very few wines of theirs I wouldn't recommend. I got to taste the Blue 2 2016 last fall at the Winemakers Coop tasting. I really like their cabernet franc, love the cab franc/merlot blend, and I'm digging under my couch cushions for spare change so I can get that massive riesling vertical tasting package! Be sure to stop by their website and order if you can.
Also, while we can't go to wineries yet to taste, we can do so virtually! Check out East Coast Wine Experience and sign up for their free NJ Virtual Wine Experience, next Friday, June 5! Once you register, they'll e-mail you links to the participating wineries, so you can choose to buy wine to taste at home during the event. It's not required, but sure could be more fun. Support small independent winemakers from the comfort of your own home. Can't beat that.
Stay home, stay safe, drink some yummy wine. Take care!