New Port Williams vineyards damaged by Arthur's winds

Kirk Starratt
Published on July 5, 2014

Arthur's wrath could have a lasting impact on a newly-established winery in Port Williams.

Planters Ridge Vineyard owner John McLarty said several of his Riesling grape canes snapped off in the strong wind. He estimates that 15 to 20 per cent were damaged. A couple late frosts in June killed an estimated 10 to 15 per cent of the buds and caused some plant damage.

“Some new plants will be set back a year,” he said, pointing out that the canes are brittle when they’re young. “I wasn’t anticipating this.”

McLarty said widespread damage to several vineyards could have an impact on an exploding wine industry in Kings. He said the damage would have some impact on his wine production this year. He buys grapes from another grower and is hoping the wind didn’t damage those crops.

“It could be a double-whammy,” McLarty said. “It could affect the potential volume of wine we make.”

There could be a loss of yield next year as well, as several chutes they would have tied down to produce fruit for the next season have also snapped off. On July 5, he spotted many canes that are bent and may be broken. This will become evident soon, he said, if they die.

Lakeville farmer Hank Bosveld, president of the Kings County Federation of Agriculture, said their farm fared pretty well through the storm. The wind started to pull the top layer of plastic off one of his greenhouses and quite a few tree limbs fell. Bosveld said he’d probably have quite a few small apples knocked off his trees.

“There’ll be some cleanup to do with branches that have broken off,” Bosveld said.

He said his farm lost power at about 8 a.m. They were relying on a generator to provide power to shrink-wrap hot house cucumbers for market.