Soaked in Shanxi: Non-vintage weather means challenges

– By Judy Leissner

This year was a tough one for the grapes in Shanxi province, home of Grace Vineyard. Things started very well – in June and July everything was perfect, everyone was excited and we thought we would have an excellent vintage. But in September we had 15 days of rain, making it the heaviest rainfall of the last 15 years. While the white grapes did okay, the red ones suffered.

Growing grapes in Shanxi is never easy, but this September’s weather was especially severe. In short, it was the toughest year of the past seven, which roughly look like this: 2001 – pretty good, 2002 – even better; 2003 – rainy; 2004 – fantastic; 2005 – okay; 2006 – spring frost, but excellent quality; and 2007 – terrible.

Last year, we focused on reserve wines but in order to protect quality, this year we will consider carefully whether to make reserve wines. This will limit the quantity of wine we can make available. This doesn’t necessarily mean the price of our wines will go up, since we want to keep our market price constant, but it does mean it will cost us a lot of money.

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