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Drought’s Silver Lining: Good Wine

Hot & Cool Food Trends

The Great Drought of 2012 has not been kind to the vast majority of crops in the U.S., corn and soybeans in particular. But for growers in the Midwest wine country, the heat and lack of rain have yielded smaller grapes with a more concentrated flavor, holding promise for excellent wines.

Wineries in grape-growing regions of Missouri, Michigan, Illinois, Ohio and other Midwestern states have been multiplying in recent years, but they've generally been seen more as tourist sites than quality vintners.

Many Midwest wineries are hoping this year will help change that perception. In a summer that has been a disaster for most farmers, grape growers have something to cheer about this season.

Wine growers in Texas echo those sentiments, too, forecasting richer more flavorful wines as a result of the dry, hot weather.

If the weather continues to be dry like it has been, the wine industry will be better overall, said Tony Debevc, who has a 170-acre vineyard in Ohio, speaking to the AP. The grape harvest will likely be smaller, but the fruit will be robust in flavor and sweetness, he says.

One theory is that vines threatened by the dry weather emit hormones that cause the fruit to sweeten up more than normal, said Gary Elliott, president of the Texas Wine and Grape Growers Association.

David Kuhlken , owner and winemaker of Pedernales Cellars in Stonewall, Texas, said the fruit from the winery's first crop looks "fantastic."

On the other hand, vintners say, the wine crop may suffer next season. The drought-stressed grapes may not survive a harsh winter. For every silver lining, there’s got to be another black cloud, I guess.

But for now, I say, let’s drink to the drought. It’s been a disaster for most everything EXCEPT the fruit of the vine. We look forward to trying the 2012 vintages.

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