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Not every vineyard struggling after summer rains

By Susan Bahorich, sbahorich@wdbj7.com
Published On: Oct 02 2013 04:50:19 PM EDT
Updated On: Oct 02 2013 05:58:49 PM EDT

A rainy summer has some farmers crying "sour grapes", especially in the wine industry. But, as WDBJ7's Susan Bahorich found out, it's not all bad news.

FINCASTLE, Va. -

David Gibbs owns Virginia Mountain Vineyards.
He took his background in investigations as a Forsenic Scientist and turned it into the search for the perfect grape.

"This is downy mild dew, powdery mild dew. Just some of the mildew that we're fighting," says Gibbs examining the leaves.

This summer, those perfect grapes have been hard to come by.

"The rain we had this year- to call it challenging would be an understatement," says Gibbs chuckling.

Last year, Gibbs and his crews harvested 50-tons of grapes, but because of this summer's rainy season, he expects the yield to be about 10-percent less.

While it has been a hit to his bottom line, Gibbs says fellow Virginia grape growers have had it worse- losing 50, 80, even 100-percent of their crops.
So- he's taking the good, with the bad.

"Our labor cost, our sprays, were probably about 50% higher this year. But, we kept at it. I was out here in the pouring rain hedging, leaf pulling. We got a pretty decent crop," he explains.

The summer rains were tough on the berries.
And as we transition into the fall, Gibbs has had to harvest four of his five grape crops early.
He hopes these cool, dry nights and warm, dry days continue so the last batch will hang on a little longer.

"We pulled leaves, opened up the fruit zone, let the sunlight in and we were able to get a very good crop, in spite of it all," he says.

Now, the fermenting process is underway.
Depending on the type, some wines will be ready for celebrations next year.
And, with the season vineyards have had, it'll be a case Gibbs will enjoy cracking.