Winery tweaks harvest schedule for Hurricane Ian

Published: Oct. 3, 2022 at 4:02 PM EDT
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BLACKSBURG, Va. (WDBJ) - It’s peak harvesting season at Beliveau Winery in Blacksburg and the owner, Yvan Beliveau, says he’s thankful rainfall from Hurricane Ian didn’t cause too much damage to this year’s crops.

Most of the grape harvesting at Beliveau Farm was completed by the time Ian arrived to make sure the grapes weren’t impacted by the rain.

“With that rain, it would have changed the sugar content of the grapes dramatically and it would have affected the pH in some way,” Beliveau said. “Sometimes it’s hard to determine and so we needed to pick them and get it over with.”

One last group of grapes weathered the storm and Beliveau says those grapes fared just fine.

This batch tends to grow longer to create wines with higher alcohol such as Beliveau’s port style wine.

“I’m going to guess that these will have lower total sugar in them because they’ve absorbed more water and there’ll be a little more rot on them, so we’ll have to do a little more taking off stuff,” Beliveau said.

Many of the grapes picked earlier during the harvest season are now in the fermentation period.

They’ll be ready for drinking in a few years.

“The real reward is two years from now when you taste that wine,” Beliveau said. “All that work, the picking, the making and all that, and all of a sudden you taste that wine, and you go ‘wow, that was really good.’”

The final batch of grapes will be harvested by the end of the week to avoid a potential frost over the weekend.

“That’s going to shut everything down, the leaves are going to stop and they’re pretty much shutting down now,” Beliveau said. “You can see the color beginning to wane on the leaves themselves and so there isn’t that much left to them.”