Illinois vineyard owners say the wet spring is bad for their harvest


Reporter - Kathryn DiGisi

COBDEN, Ill. - We have had quite a bit of rain lately and you are probably thinking that our area farmers are rejoicing.

While many of them are, vineyard owners prefer the wet weather stay away.

The moisture adds to their workload and can actually be bad for their grapes.

Since January 1 of this year, our area has received 31.59 inches of rain, nine inches above normal.

Just this month, we have received 6.12 inches of rain, that is 4.75 inches above normal.

Scott Sensmeyer runs StarView Vineyards, but he has not been in the agro-tourism business forever.

He worked in the software industry.

He quit on a whim and bought the vineyard in 2005.

He spends his days tending to his grapevines and creating award-winning wines.

Last year, the drought took its toll on farmers all over our region, but wine-growers actually fared quite well as the grapes took to the California-type climate.

Sensmeyer says the more moisture on the vines, the more susceptible they are to fungus and mildew.

"Black-rod is a mildew that impacts the grapes and it will get inside and basically cause the clusters to rot," said Sensmeyer.

You cannot detect any disease on his grapes from the added moisture yet, but he says closer to harvest the effects will be noticeable.

By protecting his vines with fungicides now, he is able to maintain his product.

It is added work, but his livelihood depends on the quality of his harvest.

We also reached out to a few other vineyards and they all said they are anticipating full and healthy crops, despite the moisture.

For those who planted new vines this spring, the rain has actually been a welcome thing.