Sip happens: Winter takes toll on Idaho wine industry

Posted at 4:00 PM, Apr 03, 2017
and last updated 2017-04-03 21:34:27-04

Winter took its toll on pretty much everything this year. One trade particularly devastated by the extreme cold: Idaho's wine industry.

"We saw some... severe damage that's going to result in us having to restart our vineyards for this year, which means loss of production for the year," Mike Williamson of Williamson Orchards & Vineyards said.

The Williamson family has been farming for more than 100 years and growing grapes for nearly 20 years. 

Williamson said this winter was one of the most crushing he has seen, but it's not because of the snow. Temperatures bottoming out around eighteen below for multiple days in a row destroyed vines. Vineyards across the Snake River Valley AVA have lost vines to the cold. 

"Not everybody was minus eighteens; that's what we recorded on our block," Williamson said. "Some were higher and some were lower, but I think most everybody I talked to has come to the conclusion that they're going to cut down and restart their vines." 

You might be hard-pressed if you're looking for a 2017 vintage from Idaho in the coming years.

"That will be some high-valued wine," Williamson said.

It's not all sour grapes for the Idaho wine industry. Williamson said 2016 was an extremely prosperous year, with totals 20 percent above average. 

"We're crossing our fingers so the next two [years] can help us out and balance out our production," he said.