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Winegrowers deal with warmer-than-usual temps

Winegrowers deal with warmer-than-usual temps

RICHLAND, Wash. -- The sunshine this early February has been a welcome sight for many of us, but for grape farmers, it could cause some problems.

“As you can see, the buds are still dormant,” said Paul Kitzke, owner of Kitzke Cellars and Upside-Down Wine. “There's no movement at all.”

Right now, grape buds are sleeping in their dormant state, and winegrowers are hoping it'll stay that way for a while longer.

Some local winegrowers said they're worried our unseasonably warm weather will push the grapes out early, but not everyone's nervous.

“It will probably cool back down,” Kitzke said. “I don't think there's really anything to worry about this year.”

But if the weather continues to stay warm, that could mean an early harvest.

“We grow great grapes in this state, and we make great wine,” he said. “And even in the bad years, we've made some great wines.”

But the real threat is a cold snap—winegrowers said if the temperature takes a sudden, drastic drop, it could damage the grapes.

“If that blast comes in--but that's farming,” Kitzke said. “That's part of ‘ag.’ I'm not going to worry about it.”

Kitzke has been growing grapes for years, and he said he loves it for many reasons.

“I like the ambiance of growing the grapes. They're all like different children, they all have their different way they want to grow and they all have their different attitudes.”

He said he's thinking positive about this year's harvest.

“Enjoy the weather, because it's going to get cold again,” he said.

And a lot of farmers are probably knocking on wood, hoping he's right.

Some local growers said they're working a month ahead of schedule--but we won't see the outcome of the harvest for several more months.

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