AUGUSTA, Mo. (KMOX) – It’s the earliest that anyone at Mt. Pleasant Estates winery in Augusta can remember the grape crop being harvested.
But winery president Chuck Dressel tells KMOX News that they had to start bringing in three-and-a-half acres of Rayon D’or grapes three weeks early due to the drought.
He looks down inside a large crate full of grapes that look to be about half the size of a grape you might see at the grocery store.
“And you might say ‘Gosh, that’s terrible! You’ve lost ten percent of your crop due to the drought’,” Dressel explains. “In actuality that three-hundred gallons that we’re missing is just water.”
Water, he says, that normally pumps up the size of a grape but also siphons off its natural flavor.
“It’s about quality, not quantity,” Dressel sums up.
So this should be a vintage that will be highly anticipated by…Wine-o-philes? Enthusiasts? Connoisseurs?
What are hard-core wine lovers called, anyway?
“They have a funny name,” Dressel says. “They’re called ‘oenophiles’ (ee’-no-files)…oenology is the study of wine.”
And yes, he knows customers are getting excited about the product that results from the 2012 grape crop.
All of this under the specter of the ongoing drought that Dressel admits could hurt the 2013 crop.
But while he joins other producers in praying for rain soon, he hopes it’s not too much, harkening back to the Great Flood of 1993.
“Ninety-three was a record year for us in terms of gallons-per-ton and in terms of gallons fermented,” Dressel recalls. “But it was not a year that I look back and say ‘Gosh, I can’t wait to drink a bottle of 1993 wine.”
While he extolls the grape-growing virtues of this summer of 2012, Dressel is also quick to express empathy for area farmers who are losing entire crops to the drought.
“We want to be respectful to our neighbors who do grow corn and soybeans and we understand their issues are very severe,” says Dressel, “however for us, this is once in a lifetime.”
Vintage 2012 wines will go on sale next spring.