LEXINGTON, N.C. -- The extreme weather changes here in North Carolina are taking a toll on local crops.
Remember that mild winter we had a few months ago? Mark Friszolowski sure does.
He’s the Winemaker at Childress Vineyards in Lexington and he said this has been the earliest season that grapes have grown in North Carolina in 30 years.
“We had such a warm spring, almost no winter,” said Friszolowski. No winter, until the day temperatures dipped below freezing.
“I remember walking down here at 4 o'clock in the morning and it was 27.2 degrees,” he said. "Within a couple of hours, those shoots started to wilt and curl over.”
“This whole vineyard was just kind of wilted over and we were just stunned. We were shocked."
Shortly after that freeze, there was a frost.
"What you would normally see are just clusters of grapes that are hanging down here,” he said. "Now you see these tiny little compact little clusters, one there, one little tiny one here, one little tiny one here, then nothing, nothing.”
Friszolowski said a typical season at Childress Vineyards would produce some 500 tons of wine, but this year they’ll be lucky if they get 100 tons.
"We're looking at probably an 80 percent loss,” said Friszolowski.
It’s a loss that most wine drinkers or visitors to the vineyard like Janet Scott won’t notice.
"When we have visitors from out of town, we usually bring them, so I've been here a couple of times,” said Scott.
Friszolowski said prices won’t go up and this wine won’t actually end up in a bottle for a couple of years.
"We're selling 2009 reds, getting ready to bottle 2010 reds, so we have a little bit of gap," he said.
For now, they’re banking on the grapes that remain.
"With the minor crop that we have left, if the season continues to be really nice and it gets ripe, we'll still harvest those grapes, only from certain blocks that we determine it economical to harvest and we'll just make high-end wine."
Still, Friszolowski said they’re happy.
“We just wish there were more grapes on there,” he said. “It’s just not meant to be this year. There's always next year."