New Yorkers bought Champagne and red wine to keep them going before one of the worst recorded blizzards on America's north east coast, which brought up to 46 inches of snow in vineyards in Virginia.
As the snow is cleared from the roads following the US east coast blizzard and people get back to their daily lives, a picture has emerged of how wine lovers – and wineries themselves – coped with the deluge of snow and ice.
Residents of New York appeared to see what was coming and stocked up on wine accordingly, said Chris Adams, CEO of wine merchant Sherry-Lehmann.
‘Most were buying red wines in anticipation of having a day at home and cooking hearty winter fare.
‘Although we did sell quite a bit of sparkling wine and Champagne, which made us wonder if a lot of people were going to begin their day with bubbly. I think most New Yorkers saw the shutdown of the city as an excuse to stay inside all day and relax; something we never do!’
Whilst those in the city were holed up inside, out in the vineyards of the north-east US it was a different story.
In Virginia, some vineyards saw up to 46 inches of snow.
Several winery owners said the snow could actually be beneficial by helping to protect the vines in the event of another cold snap. ‘It will insulate the graft unions, especially on young vines,’ said Josh Gerard, winemaker at Boxwood Winery.
Justin Bogarty, winemaker at Bogarty Family Wine Group, said that most vines develop double trunks to protect themselves from the very cold winters they experience in Virginia.
The vines are also currently dormant, so there were no buds to be damaged.
He also said, ‘We have not begun to do any final pruning and therefore we feel that we are somewhat safe from cold damage. Also on the rare occasion that we get snow like this, it will act as an insulator and protect the grape vines from cold damage.’
The blizzard largely missed the Finger Lakes wine region further north.
David Stanley, owner of Stanburn Winery, said that heavy snow can be better than heavy rains because it ‘will slowly melt and seep farther into the soil instead of running off like heavy rains tend to do’.
In Virginia, vineyard owners tend to grow more cold-hardy European grape vines. Bogarty, for example, focuses his growing efforts on Cabernet Franc, Albariño, Cabernet Sauvignon, Chardonnay and Merlot.
Vines risk being killed if temperatures drop below 15 degrees Celsius (5 degrees Fahrenheit)
‘Mounding’ – or burying – the younger vines is a common practice in some of the world’s coldest vineyard regions, and is common in China’s Ningxia, for example.