Two-thousand-twelve may be the year of quality over quantity for many of Illinois’ wineries. A warmer than average winter, a couple of late frosts and an extremely hot and dry summer means lower than normal yields for vineyards across Illinois. Karen Hand, winemaker at Blue Sky Winery in Makanda, says they’re a few weeks into their harvest and while they are on target with their white grapes the red grape count looks to be low.
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Dan Wenzel, winemaker at August Hill Winery in Utica, is singing a similar song. He says some of his varieties are down 50-percent to 75-percent from last year. While the quantity of grapes is down, the quality of the grapes is up.
Kurt Grohsmeyer, owner of the Old Mill Vineyard in Metamora, says the grapes he’s harvested are very high in sugar which will translate into a wine with more alcohol and stronger, bolder flavors. These are early predictions, however. Most vineyards are just a few weeks into their harvest, which typically runs from August through October.