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Mother Nature puts squeeze on Arizona grape growers

Mother Nature put the squeeze on Southern Arizona grape growers this year, but wine producers are making the most of their diminished harvests.

From the Arizona Daily Star:

Mother Nature put the squeeze on Southern Arizona grape growers this year, but wine producers are making the most of their diminished harvests.

Frost damage from record-breaking cold in February, followed by a dry spring, a late freeze in May, sweltering summer days and battering monsoon rains combined with insect infestations and hungry birds displaced by history-making wildfires to take a toll on the harvest.

But that's not necessarily bad news. Smaller grape yields are allowing winemakers to focus on quality.

"Sometimes, if the vine is producing a smaller crop, it does produce a better quality because the fruit is concentrated," said winemaker and winery manager Fran Lightly of Sonoita Vineyards in Elgin. "The quality is just as good, but there's not as much of it."

It's the second consecutive year Southern Arizona crops have been damaged by unusual weather conditions. Just before harvest time in August 2010, a devastating storm brought freezing temperatures, high winds and battering hail. The entire year's crop was wiped out.

For more, see: Grape growers make do with what they have

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