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Experts talk about how natural disasters impact local wineries

Dablon winery expecting good year // WSBT 22

As fires continue to damage vineyards throughout California, our local vineyards are finishing up their harvest.

This begs the question, do these fires impact local businesses?

Wine experts aren't too concerned with the damage in California. They say for those Golden State wineries, it will take some time for them to rebuild.

For the local industries, they're more concerned about what this coming Winter could do.

"It's going to take about four years. If you lose a vine, by the time you replant it you're talking four years before you're looking at a crop again and it's going to be a light crop,” said Rudy Shafer, a winemaker for Dablon.

Wine experts in Southwest Michigan say it will take years for California wineries to recover.

With a limited California supply to work with, Michigan wine could be in higher demand. But experts say that's not very likely.

"There might be a little bit of a bump, but it's highly unlikely, actually, because the wines that are grown in California are quite different,” said Michigan Wine Council Director Karen Bush.

Although there won't be a massive change in demand, Michigan vineyards say this has been one of the best crops they've seen.

"I would say this is a banner year. And even with that warm spell we had a couple weeks ago, just pushed us right over the edge on ripeness and got everything ready so it just worked out perfect,” said Chad Hartline, a winemaker for Dablon.

Due to the mild Winter and mostly dry conditions, this year's crop looks to make some quality wine. This is a relief from past harvests.

"We've already gone through a polar vortex year, in 2014 and 2015 where it got below minus five and that's really where our grapes start seeing some damage,” Hartline said.

Although a wildfire isn't likely in Michigan, a Spring frost could have a big impact.

"Frost after the chutes come out, we get a late frost will freeze the tips of those chutes and then we're counting on secondary chutes to carry the crop load which aren't as fruitful,” Shafer said.

Dablon says they'll wrap up this year's harvest sometime next week. They'll be back in February to start trimming the vines again.

If we see another nasty winter, they say they'll be prepared.

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