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May 16, 2014 05:00 PM

Freeze Expected To Damage SD Wine Crop

Colman, SD

Three nights of sub-freezing temperatures and record lows likely damaged South Dakota's wine crop.

Pete Baumberger and his wife, Julie, are taking a hard look at their vines after a series of hard freezes.

The Baumberger Wineyard and Winery near Colman is among several vineyards in eastern South Dakota expected to take a hit.

The vines are specifically grown to withstand the harsh winters, but Julie isn't sure it was enough to protect them.

"It's kind of heartbreaking," Julie said. "This was going to be for the main part of our vineyard, all of our newest planting, this was our year. And now it may not be."

The freeze couldn't come at a worse time, as buds are beginning to break- a critical moment in the growing season.

Pete says up to 1/3 of his crop could be damaged.

"I was hoping that the buds were small enough, tight enough to maybe protect them a little bit," Pete said. "We felt fortunate compared to the other growers I talked to whose buds already broke; they had gone through leaf break."

Friday morning, this area saw about seven hours of sub-freezing temperatures, and it could take up to two weeks to find out the extent of the damage to the crops.

"We are going to need a little heat on them now, a little warmth, and open these up and see how we did," Pete said.

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