Vineyard Killing Winters Blamed on Global Warming

Guest essay by Eric Worrall

h/t Breitbart – A vineyard farmer in New York blames extreme winters caused by global warming for killing his vines.

Great Lakes Vineyard Confronts Climate Change


Just a few miles from Lake Erie, farmer Mike Jordan takes me on a walk through his vineyard. On a work utility vehicle we move through the rows of vines bursting with purple and high yellow grapes.

Recent years have been some of the warmest globally. And Jordan remembers well the extreme weather that hit his farm.

“We’ve had a very mild winter [in 2016] so almost everything survived,” he said. “But prior to that, the winter of 2014 to 2015, were extremely cold temperatures that I’ve never seen before.

“And it killed a lot of vineyards that in the past we’ve had success with. We’ve done a lot of replanting and we try to choose varieties that can survive the winter.”

Climate trends also have caused farmers to change the types of grapes they grow.

Jordan says he phased out the Syrah variety.

“What appeared attractive to grow years ago, now with more severe winters and more extremes, we’ve had to rethink what we’re planting,” he said.

Read more:

Jordan mentions mild periods in winter which prevent Lake Erie from freezing over also cause problems.

My question – if global warming causes colder winters, will global cooling when it eventually occurs cause milder winters?

Accepting that both global warming and global cooling would cause colder winters requires belief that we currently live in a magic climate optimum, that any change will result in more severe winters. Possible but very unlikely.

Believing global cooling would lead to milder winters is absurd – the last ice age was clearly not the product of milder winters.

So colder winters are clearly not the product of global warming. Either colder winters are the product of random local climate variations, a very real possibility, or something other than global warming is occurring.

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December 1, 2017 2:32 am

According to the (admittedly heavily adjusted) NOAA data, New York winters used to be much colder:

Maybe NOAA are wrong?

Mark - Helsinki
Reply to  Paul Homewood
December 1, 2017 5:20 am

I’d say it is wrong to judge New York’s historical weather on a NOAA temperature data set 😀

Samuel C Cogar
Reply to  Paul Homewood
December 1, 2017 6:14 am

Paul Homewood – December 1, 2017 at 2:32 am

According to ……. New York winters used to be much colder:

Maybe NOAA are wrong?

NAH, …… don’t think so, …….. NOAA is correct on that one.

I lived in the Mohawk Valley area (Herkimer/Utica) from the mid 60’s to the mid 80’s (20 years or so) …. and it was one ell of a lot colder and snowier than it has been during the past 20 years (1997-2017).

Recently, they have experienced far more devastating flooding in that area than there ever was when I lived there.

Frederik Michiels
Reply to  Samuel C Cogar
December 1, 2017 4:54 pm

That exactly happened here as well (see my comment with the Nao winter index) However our RMI does point to the NAO index while NOAA doesn’t

Reply to  Samuel C Cogar
December 2, 2017 7:08 pm

That area has had serious flooding on occasion before you lived there, e.g. 1936 and the remnants of Hurricane Agnes around 1970. See

Samuel C Cogar
Reply to  Samuel C Cogar
December 3, 2017 4:11 am

@ Ric Werme – December 2, 2017 at 7:08 pm

That area has had serious flooding on occasion before you lived there, e.g. 1936 and the remnants of Hurricane Agnes around 1970. See

Ric W, I checked your cited WUWT link and via links there I found this, to wit:

“The Flood of 36”, as my dad called it, still lives in Western Pennsylvania lore. I suspect this must be the same event as the “All New England Flood”.

So check your geography, …… the Mohawk Valley area (Herkimer/Utica) is pretty far removed, like 500 miles the way the crow flies, from both western Pennsylvania and New England.

Anyway, ….. usually only “rainy” remnants of Gulf hurricanes make it as far as the MV. Major storms that affect the MV come out of the Great Lakes area from the west or out of Canada from the north west.

ps: I now live 1 1/2 hours (driving time) south of Pittsburgh ….. but 9 1/2 hours south west of Utica, NY.

December 1, 2017 2:35 am

That farmer should listen to Rush Limbaugh instead of those crazy UN-brainwashed Global Warming dwebs in the mainstream media.

Reply to  RockyRoad
December 1, 2017 8:13 am

That farmer should read the Farmer’s Almanac.

Caligula Jones
Reply to  rocketscientist
December 1, 2017 9:09 am

That farmer should have looked at an atlas…

Ian Magness
December 1, 2017 2:42 am

We get this sort of garbage in the UK all the time and most of the public buy into it hook, line and sinker.
For example, last year we had an abysmal wild slow berry crop. That was down, we were told, to “climate change”. This year we had a bumper crop. It was due to….. you guessed it!
Where long term records exist, time and time again no trends exist, it was just weather.

Ian Magness
Reply to  Ian Magness
December 1, 2017 2:45 am

Sorry, spell-check victim. They are of course sloe berries, as in sloe gin.

Reply to  Ian Magness
December 1, 2017 11:40 am

Clear in context, if one knows one’s berries.

Reply to  Ian Magness
December 1, 2017 3:19 pm

You can live without that. Let me know when Scotch production is affected.

Caligula Jones
Reply to  Ian Magness
December 1, 2017 9:25 am

Five years ago here in Ontario, Canada we had a much drier than average spring which followed a much lower than average snow cap.

Result: the Great Lakes were at a (wait for it…) much lower than average level.

CUE THE APOCALPYSE! We were gonna have to dredge channels to get the lakers (i.e., large ships such as the Edmund Fitzergald) through, and, horrors of horrors!!!, the pleasure boating industry was gonna die because the docks were actually getting far from the water.

The usual climate models were dusted off and the usual hindcasts delivered the iron-clad, science-is-settled verdict that climate change shows that there would be less precipitation, and indeed, this was the Scary New Normal.


THIS year, we had a WETTER than average spring which followed a completely average snow cap.

Result: the Great Lakes were at a (I’m sure most can do the math here) much HIGHER than average level.

CUE THE APOCALPYSE! We were gonna have to floodproof the entire shore of every Great Lake, MILLIONS were are risk!!!

The usual climate models (the same ones from 5 years ago, but “new and improved”) were dusted off and the usual hindcasts delivered the iron-clad, science-is-settled verdict that climate change shows that there would be MORE precipitation, and indeed, this was the Scary New Normal.

Can’t wait for the result from the upcoming totally normal winter and spring, but I’m sure it will be horrific.

December 1, 2017 2:44 am

Confused thinking or what. Say anything you want, just end it with “it’s global warming wot dun it” and you”ll be rewarded.

I’m broke, it’s global warming wot dun it. Send money.

~Drumming fingers on table~

I’m waiting!

Reply to  HotScot
December 1, 2017 2:50 am

The global warming theme is beyond parody, or any sense that the advocates could lose credibility with preposterous claims.

December 1, 2017 3:03 am

From, March 10, 2014 …

2. Welcome back sub-zero
Sub-zero days are not that unusual in Cleveland. We average about 3.5 a year. But when the temperature dipped to a season-low of 11 below-zero on Jan. 6, it ended a streak of 1,060 straight days of temperatures that stayed on the plus side. There hadn’t been a sub-zero day since Feb. 11, 2011.

3. Sub-zero, again and again
We ended up with 10 days in which it was below zero, more than any other winter in Cleveland in 30 years. There were 12 sub-zero days in 1983-84. The record of 24 was set in 1976-77.

5. Average
The average high of 33.6 degrees ranks just 42nd highest over the last half-century. And the average low of 16.9 degrees was the fourth lowest, but still well above the 50-year record low average of 12.4 degrees in 1977-78.

South of Lake Erie it is cold in winter and hot in summer. If the lake freezes over, it will be colder in winter. Always has been, always will be.

Samuel C Cogar
Reply to  rovingbroker
December 1, 2017 6:21 am

1977-78 was a really brutal winter, all across the northeast and south to the mid-Atlantic states.

Gunga Din
Reply to  Samuel C Cogar
December 1, 2017 10:10 am

The Blizzard of ’78.
Note the caption that says “A National Guard snow plow prepares to clear the way in Shelby County, Ohio”.
The “snow plow” is actually a bulldozer!
(Shelby County is the area where I was at the time.)

Gunga Din
Reply to  Samuel C Cogar
December 1, 2017 2:38 pm

A “PS” regarding Ohio wine.
About 4 to 5 years after that I visited a local winery. Good wine. They were still in business, along with a number of other local wineries.
Why all the whining?

Reply to  rovingbroker
December 1, 2017 12:21 pm

Samuel and Gunga: You may enjoy this Wikipedia article about the Blizzard of ’77 …

Even before the blizzard hit, the Niagara Mohawk Power Company (which is now National Grid) had warned that snow was reaching the power lines in some areas of western New York. Also, on Thursday, January 27, severe natural gas shortages forced industries and schools to either curtail activities or to close.

Nothing close since.

Gunga Din
Reply to  rovingbroker
December 1, 2017 2:30 pm

I don’t remember what the happened in mid-west Ohio that year. Probably because I was in Kansas. 😎
(I do remember lots of snow and low wind chills (that worked outside in) but I didn’t live there long enough to call that winter “memorable” or “normal” for Kansas.
(Though I’m sure Man’s CO2 made it … different.8-)

Frederik Michiels
December 1, 2017 3:18 am

ain’t this normal weather?

here in belgium the warming has more to do with the absence of very cold winters then with soaring summer temperatures

now the very tricky thing is -and that’s why our RMI is very cautious with the global warming CO2 meme- is that here the severity of the winters is directly linked to loading patterns such as the NAO pattern and the air masses.

now they talk about two steps up in the records but that they are nearly parallel to the winter NAO is what make them cautious.
comment image

the correlation is striking: we had very severe winters in the 50’s and 60’s and since the 90’s they were virtually gone (2010 was just ine of them and is clearly visible)

now the fun part: they found out that the nao index follows the motion of the amo signal. when the amo goes up, the nao index goes positive, when it goes down it goes mainly negative…

So here in our regions the main question is: what will it do the coming years? It is also noteworthy that the record positive NAO peaks correspond to our record warm winters…

December 1, 2017 3:30 am

The climate change we have been experiencing is caused by the sun and the oceans over which mankind has no control. So if climate change is causing damages the one to sue is Mother Nature. Lots of luck trying to collect on a judgement against Mother Nature.

December 1, 2017 3:45 am

l think someone should remain them of some of the winters this part of the world had during the LIA.

December 1, 2017 4:06 am

I just looked at NHemisphere’s winters temperatures, nothing unusual there providing the end’s ‘corpus delicti’ is ignored

Peta of Newark
December 1, 2017 4:14 am

Please see below the definition of ‘weather-in-a-desert’

Recent years have been some of the warmest globally. And Jordan remembers well the extreme weather that hit his farm.

“We’ve had a very mild winter [in 2016] so almost everything survived,” he said. “But prior to that, the winter of 2014 to 2015, were extremely cold temperatures that I’ve never seen before.

IOW, the weather/climate can do whatever it likes whenever it likes = the thermal inertia of that/the landscape is disappearing.
Thermal inertia comes from there being a lot of water retention in the dirt and some extent, the plants growing there.
When soil organics disappear, so does the water, the the thermal inertia of the landscape and the ‘nice weather’

Defn: Desert.
A place of low soil organic matter

Farmer: Look in a mirror – that’s what killed your plants

Reply to  Peta of Newark
December 1, 2017 7:16 am

I am confused. Which comes first. Low soil organic matter or lack of moisture.

December 1, 2017 4:31 am

Climate history has shown that the NE corner of the USA can be rather prone to Polar air outbrakes during the winter. Clearly during the LGM this was happening “big time”. So trying to pin this down to global warming when it does happen really does not hold water

December 1, 2017 4:36 am

Here in Oz in the last couple of weeks we’ve been warned with increasing alarm of heatwaves, a cold summer and flooding. It did get hot, but it’s cooling. The flooding seems to be quite minor by the radar. It goes from green to black to yellow to red to purple. Most of the rain today in oz has been in the green range, a small bit of yellow and tiny bit of red.

The screeching alarm doesn’t stop, however…

Bruce Cobb
December 1, 2017 5:02 am

What a moron. It’s just easier to blame the weather on “climate change”. Hotter, colder, wettter, drier – it doesn’t matter. It’s all because of “climate change”.

December 1, 2017 5:25 am

As l have posted before l think that the warming of the winters here in England over the last 40 years.
Has been due to a decrease in cold air from the north and east. Which allows a increase in warmer Atlantic air to reach England during the winter. Rather then there has been any delay to the start of the winter season.
My now 41 winter season recording of the date of the first snow (now we had this winter’s first snow on the 29th) suggest there has been little change to the onset of winter during this time. The only change l can see in recent years may have been that the dates of the first snow now have a slightly wider range then before. But no clear signs that the number of times that the first snowfalls are turning up before Dec 1st have reduced.

December 1, 2017 5:33 am

Global saming is causing weather saming…hot then cold hot then cold, steeeamy hot, then cold, like ice!

Reply to  menicholas
December 1, 2017 11:43 am

“…heap big warmy…”

December 1, 2017 5:43 am

After decades of practice, climate alarmists have learned to rationalize ANY noteworthy weather event as having been ’caused’ by global warming.

The Expulsive
December 1, 2017 5:51 am

Grape farmers in Prince Edward County learned years ago to mound up the vines, as there have been, and will again be, very cold days in winter, especially January and February. Vineyards that are not protected in this way die, and we see some of them around the County.
I have a friend in Beamsville who lost most of his Riesling a few years ago, there they did not mound up.
And about 110 years ago more than half of the apple orchards in Ontario were killed by the cold, as well as the vineyards of the winery that won a medal at the World’s Fair in the 1890s, so maybe this farmer needs to be aware of where they are?
There were only very hardy wines grown about Lakes Ontario and Erie up until only a few years ago, as typical winters used to be much more bitterly cold than now. Only 40 years ago I remember the 70s were far colder than now, because, according to the media, we were heading for another ice age (didn’t Peter Gabriel have a voice over of someone speaking of another ice age?). But in Ontario we forget how cold it used to be or that life in Canada used to be extremely perilous due to the cold, but you wouldn’t know now that with all of the current anti-oil/people opinion floating around.

December 1, 2017 6:19 am

Farmers in general, and especially orchardists and vinery’s must always assume that an anomaly in weather lows is always possible for any reason. Especially in the NE USA and Canada where the historical record is full of anomalies which can be explained as easily as a severe dip in the jet stream, allowing all that cold polar air to sink south. It isn’t all that far to Greenland or Hudson Bay, where cold air is the norm most of the year. Sounds like the poor viticulturist got used by the climate charlatans to advance politicked climate prop@ganda.

December 1, 2017 6:21 am

We’ve had a number of vineyards put in here in Northern Indiana, where they were pretty rare before. Mostly by city folk who have moved out to the country over the last decade or two.

Most of the farmers that grew up here just shake their head. Your lucky if you can explain something simple like El Nino to a city slicker.
Forget about multi decade climate swings.

Oh well, wineries are big business. Maybe they’ll make enough profit to afford to replant every time the big freeze kills them off.


December 1, 2017 6:28 am

We have a spotted lantern fly crisis here in Pennsylvania. We are the epicenter of the outbreak. Quarantines have been set up to stop the spread. It is fatal to grape vines as well as many other trees. Wonder how long it will be before man-made climate change will be blamed?

Another observation on the same subject. I find it amazing how we humans think that we can stop the spread of something like the spotted lantern fly. They are discovered, studies are conducted, government agencies are set up to study the issue, quarantines are put in place, people are instructed how to rid the scourge, information about the problem is published, news reports show the devastation and how we must work to eradicate the problem, more government agencies are formed to further study the outbreak, more and more warnings are issued etc. Meanwhile the spotted lantern fly continues to spread. A funny note – One of the ways to stop the spread of the lantern fly is to check underneath your car before each use and check for the fly as well as eggs. Take a minute and snap a mental picture of this.

Pennsylvania is also the epicenter of a much older insect outbreak – ash borer. We had the same process as discussed above for that outbreak. It has been ongoing for at least 10 years. The same process as described above was implemented yet the ash trees are all dying. They quarantined firewood, prohibited the transfer of firewood across county lines. Yet they were not stopped and lots of money was spent in the name of stopping them.

As I write this I remembered that Pennsylvania seems to be the center of lots of these type of crisis. Spotted Lantern Fly, Emerald Ash Borer, Stink Bugs, Deer Ticks and Lyme disease, Stinking Sumac. Maybe it is something in the water.

Michael Creighton in his book “State of Fear” states that the reason or all these crisis type situations is people control. You have to keep everyone’s attention on the “crisis” so they think that they are focusing on something to help better mankind and will not think for themselves. I am amazed at how much money we spend on these type of crisis that nothing can be done about. Kinda sounds like man-made climate change.

Ed Zuiderwijk
December 1, 2017 6:46 am

Cognitive Dissonance. Could be the brand of the wines they may produce from the new, hardier, vines.

Michael in Dublin
December 1, 2017 7:26 am

I grew up in a semi-desert area where my father’s vines died every winter. As a young boy I was always amazed to see them spouting again as Spring arrived. Before this my dad went through the annual ritual of carefully pruning the vines. These farmers need to be writing to a farmers’ journal for advice. This does not belong in an article about climate.

w p
December 1, 2017 7:31 am

Slightly off topic, but reading the above article, it reminded me of a recent ‘dispute’ between a successful wine grower at higher altitudes in Switzerland, Pascal Rittener, and the government.

Olivier Viret, the civil servant, responsible for making sure government regulation are respected, concerning wine growing in the Canton (Swiss Federal State) of Vaud (in German Kanton Waadt, btw the one with the infamous number plate ‚VD‘) confirmed to the news agency ‘Schweiz aktuell’:

“The law is clear: commercial wine growing over 700 meters is not allowed. To produce good wine at these altitudes is impossible”.

Because the law says so, it is of course impossible! Even if it has been prove otherwise, in practice, the law is the law. Reminds me of some climate models: because they say otherwise, reality must be wrong.

Google translate will help to get the ghist of the entire article here

December 1, 2017 7:32 am

Here in SE England its snowed in November for the first time I can remember.

This feels more like the 1950s…

Reply to  Leo Smith
December 1, 2017 8:11 am

Geeze … I know! I have been watching current photos of my beloved Arsenal players training in outfits more suitable for Ice Station Zero! Wearing full face shields! But it IS … North London after all. Yep. Global Warming is ruining the pitches of every EPL club.

Reply to  Leo Smith
December 1, 2017 8:31 am

Leo snow in November in England is not quite as rare as you may think.
Here in my area of North Lincolnshire where l live we have since 1977 had snow/sleet fall 20 times before Dec1st. True in SE England there is less chance of snow but even there it did snow in at least November 2010.

Phil Rae
Reply to  Leo Smith
December 1, 2017 9:10 am


An understandable belief or recollection…….but it probably only demonstrates the fallability of memory and the local vaguaries of weather. No criticism intended or implied, Leo, but I have attached a link to an historical record of snowfall in the UK, in terms of location, quantity and timing of first snow. As you’ll see, south and SE England get a mention for snowfall in November in 1985, 1988, 1993 & 2008 in recent years.

December 1, 2017 7:55 am

prior to that, the winter of 2014 to 2015, were extremely cold temperatures that I’ve never seen before…Jordan mentions mild periods in winter which prevent Lake Erie from freezing over also cause problems.

Na, you’re obviously missing the point. Global warming doesn’t cause milder or colder winters, it causes winters to be the wrong temperature no matter the temperature. Just like how volcanoes blow up if they don’t get virgins thrown into them or how showering in chicken blood once a month will protect your goats from chupacabra.

Steve C
December 1, 2017 7:59 am

Can’t see the difference from when the colder winters killed off those vineyards the Romans planted in Yorkshire, in the north of England. What caused the … er, global warming then?

December 1, 2017 8:01 am

mathematically weather is not a coin toss. it does not follow the “normal” distribution as we see in games of chance. rather it is a power series distribution where “rare” events are much more likely than what we expect normally.

this has led a generation of statistically challenged climate scientist astray as they attribute to “climate change” what is in point of fact simply due to faulty math.

December 1, 2017 8:04 am

If this farmer’s vines are dying then he has chosen the wrong varieties for his vineyard’s growing zone. Vines are rated for growing zones and if the vines are incompatible they will die. It was pointed out by The Expulsive (see above) that mounding (or some other protective cover) can help vines survive, but there are limits to this. The answer is a cold weather variety, but that can come with a sacrifice in wine quality.

In my personal experience I found it was easier to just plant vines that are compatible with the zone. Otherwise you have to replant every so often and then wait three years for the vines to reliably produce.

Reply to  Richmond
December 1, 2017 8:15 am

If the farmer would like to buy the book ‘times of feast,times of famine’ by e Roy Laurie he would see the thousand years worth of records on vineyards the author painstakingly collected.

They include severe cold severe heat severe drought severe rain and every condition in between. There is no such thing as normal or average

Reply to  climatereason
December 1, 2017 9:22 am

On average… things are normal… except when they’re not.

Andy Pattullo
December 1, 2017 8:16 am

It is customary if you grow things for a living that the weather is never optimal. It is either too cold, too hot, too wet, too dry or far too average to get the bets crop possible. Most farmers are pretty smart though about not blaming heat for it being too cold or rain for it being too dry. Maybe growing wine in New York is a special case.

Bill Powers
Reply to  Andy Pattullo
December 1, 2017 9:03 am

Andy, stop with the logic. We are moving back into the seasonal weather conditions that caused the “experts” to predict the coming Ice Age back in the 70’s. They are currently caught in a shift of dialogue. By 2020, after roughly 3 years of blizzard conditions in the upper Midwest and Northeast with sub zero ambient temperatures and wind chills to make a fully grown Viking nervous, the warming terminology will have dissipated completely and the narrative will have shifted. Seems like they have learned past lessons well and will finally settle into “climate change” as the go to nomenclature with complete disregard for the scientific evidence that the climate has always been in a state of fluctuation. Oh no! this time it is all your fault. So hunker down, pass the firewood and pay up.

Reply to  Bill Powers
December 1, 2017 2:37 pm

Mike Mann will flip his hockey stick and proclaim that CO2 cools the planet. 😉

Smart Rock
December 1, 2017 9:06 am

Jordan mentions mild periods in winter which prevent Lake Erie from freezing over also cause problems

And those problems would be……..? He can’t walk, or drive a snowmobile, to Canada without going through a customs post, perhaps? Both ways!!

So if it’s colder, he has problems, and if it’s warmer, he has problems. He sounds as if he might have problems if it stayed the same. Poor guy.

December 1, 2017 9:12 am

It’s the new liberalized and unreformed insanity defense.

December 1, 2017 9:21 am

So… I guess we could blame a very hot summer’s day on global cooling?….

December 1, 2017 9:57 am

A New Yorker complaining about winter? In upstate? Knock me over with a feather.

December 1, 2017 9:57 am

Why do you think they call it Climate Change now? Global Warming was too restrictive – it actually led one to expect warming. Climate Change can cover everything, warmer, cooler, drier, wetter, and anything in between. So they have an all purpose descriptive, available for use no matter what the weather does.

Long live Climate Change! We will study it. Please send money!

December 1, 2017 10:06 am

Meanwhile in Europe, severe late frosts in 2017 (together with the same in Australia and South America) have resulted in the lowest wine production in 50 years:

What you would expect of course in a record warm year.

How much ice will it take to show the general public they are being lied to?

December 1, 2017 10:29 am

It’s the Jerry Brown insanity defense.

December 1, 2017 11:46 am

Ironic for a grape grower to drink the KoolAid.

Reply to  jorgekafkazar
December 1, 2017 12:15 pm


Matt G
December 1, 2017 5:17 pm

Already made comments like this before, but it really doesn’t matter how much they exaggerate global temperatures because regional temperatures/weather will eventually prove them to be fake. The USA temperatures were very global like before recent adjustments for them both. Western Europe doesn’t magically cool while global temperatures are warm record breaking. Cold winters generally occur for most populated regions because the jet stream becomes meridional instead of the usual zonal and that is generally caused by weaker solar activity, nothing to do with rising CO2 levels.

Increasing milder winters and warmer summers indicate a warming planet.
Increasing colder winters and cooler summers indicate a cooling planet.

There is no in-between and climate change causes X just based on religious mind set myth trying to support the agenda.

December 1, 2017 5:46 pm

Terrific! Another “grape grower” growing grapes in areas while being entirely clueless about that region’s grape growing history.

Since Europeans arrived on these shores they have been trying to plant European wine varieties.
Vineyards that planted vitis vinifera grapevines from France, Italy, Spain, Germany quickly discovered that vitis vinifera grapevines did not like:
• Severe winters and subzero Fahrenheit temperatures, (below -17.8℃),
• Late frosts
• Early frosts,
• Heavy clay soils,
• Warm wet winters,
• Cold wet winters, etc.

Wet winters and heavy clay soils foster downy mildew and powdery mildew (Phytophthora); both killers of grape vines if untreated.
The trouble is that those vitis vinifera roots sitting winter dormant in heavy clay stagnant soils, causes those grapes to succumb to Phytophthora very quickly

Western New York soils tend towards heavy clays.

New York Grape Growing Regions
Lake Erie Region

The Lake Erie grape belt is an area about five to ten miles wide extending from the lake shore to the Lake Erie escarpment, which rises about 1000 feet above the 600 ft elevation shore of Lake Erie.

Near the lake, deep, heavy clay soils derived from lake sediments predominate.
The most productive soils are Chenango gravelly loams on the bench adjacent to Rte. 20 (700 to 800 ft elevation), which are derived from glacial till and can be very deep.
These soils comprise about one third of the 20,000 acres of grapes in the region, and slopes are moderate at 2 to 8%.

Grape production extends midway up the escarpment to about 1000 ft in elevation. Soils on the escarpment tend to be shallow clay loams. Soils are derived from shales and acidic, with native pH in the 4.0 to 5.0 range.

The Lake Erie region tends to accumulate more heat units (2,500 to 2,700 growing degree days, base 50 ºF) than the Finger Lakes region.
Moderation of winter lows is provided by Lake Erie (the shallowest of the Great Lakes), but it can end abruptly when Lake Erie freezes over.
This generally happens in late January about nine years out of ten.”

Nor do vitis vinifera vines enjoy subzero Fahrenheit temperatures, (below -17.8℃); as the vines are killed by extended below zero exposures.

Grape Types
European: zones 6-9, early-ripening 160 frost free days, others 170-200, eg. Shiraz
French-American: zones 5-9, eg. Seyval
Native: zones: 4-9,―fox grapes‖, Concord table grape, 150 frost free days
(modern) Hybrids of above, eg. Minnesota cultivars (zones 4-8)
Muscadine: zones 7-10, 200 frost free days”
That warmer portion of New York alongside Lake Erie is Zone 6a -15°F -23.3°C average annual minimum winter temperature.
Once Lake Erie freezes, an Arctic blast can bring colder temperatures. Just another penalty for believing averages are absolutes.

An early possible cross between the Native American Vitis labrusca and the European Vitis vinifera vines is the Catawba grape. Which became quite popular during the mid 1800s.

While the Catawba inherits some of the parent’s cold resistance, it is still susceptible to the phytophthora mildews; causing entire vineyards to be uprooted and destroyed.

As Welch’s grape juices demonstrates so well, New England and New York are quite suitable for growing the native vitis labrusca grape; one well known variety is the Concord grape.

Grape growers grow vitis vinifera and vitis vinifera/labrusca hybrids at their own risk.

Not surprisingly, the last forty years have seen a huge influx of ‘gentlemen farmers’, retiring early to grow grapes for wines.

Also unsurprisingly, NASA and NOAA have injected their climate change religious advocacy into the world of growing wine grapes.

Reply to  ATheoK
December 1, 2017 7:14 pm

Shiraz is one of the less cold hardy vinifera grape varieties. I would consider it to be marginal in even the warmest parts of upstate NY. The primary areas for growing vinifera is Seneca Lake and Cayuga lakes as they never or rarely freeze. Lake Erie is a bad place to grow vinifera. I would consider that growing Shiraz to be a hobby.

There are some grape varieties developed by the university of Minnesota that are cold hardy to -30 to -40 degrees C. They would grow well, and have similar flavor characteristics to European grapes. Marquette, Frontenac and LaCrescent are such varieties and they would grow well there. Traditional labrusca grapes would grow well as well. The flavors of the labrusca may not be to the liking of Europeans, but for the American market they sell very well.

The other reason not to grow Shiraz is you are competing with the rest of the world. It is better to grow something unique and well suited to a region, and not having to compete with the French/ California/ Australia wine lake that occurs in years of high production of Vitis vinifera grapes.

Reply to  James
December 1, 2017 7:23 pm

Genetic engineering might be the way to get rid of what is politely called the “foxy” flavor of labrusca grape wine.

Reply to  James
December 1, 2017 8:16 pm

You are correct.

Syrah/Shiraz is a Mediterranean vitis vinifera variety. As a vitis vinifera variety Shiraz is highly susceptible to phytophthora and cold weather.

The trouble with New York, Northern Pennsylvania and New England is that the ground freezes solid to some depth.
Damage by freezing or damage by phytophthora in clay soils is deadly to vitis vinifera.

Reply to  James
December 1, 2017 9:05 pm

Hunter Valley Shiraz. ! 🙂 🙂

Reply to  James
December 1, 2017 9:09 pm

Tonight, I finish the second half of a Coonawarra (South Australian) Shiraz. 🙂

Reply to  James
December 3, 2017 1:00 pm

“TRM December 2, 2017 at 8:06 am
ATheoK, I want you for my orchardist!!! Darn nice workup on what should be grown where.”

Thanks for the compliment TRM, but it isn’t as deserved as you make it seem.

I have several minor advantages:
1) I’ve planted and raised grapes, fruit trees, berries, nuts and vegetables since childhood. In my early twenties, I added the affliction of raising orchids to that menagerie.

2) On my current property I have peaches, grapes, plums, cherries, blueberries, oaks and hickory nuts. I haven’t replaced my raspberries the last few years, but I intend to fix that void soon.
In our sunroom, I raise my orchids with several Mediterranean type fig trees and assorted other plants including tomatoes and peppers.
The grapes currently on our property are my recent attempt to grow muscadines, which are doing surprisingly well; though I dread a -0°F spell every winter. I had several vitis vinifera/labrusca hybrids, but they all succumbed to that winter root disease.

3) One business trip to California from Washington DC, I got upgraded to first class by the airline. My seat partner turned out to be a grape expert from California who was flown to Virginia to “advise” several large Virginia Grape growers.
I had already lost several vinifera/labrusca hybrids to winter root rots, by then; so the expert got to share some of his stresses telling pseudo experts why their vines were dying or failing to flourish.
In the process of our flight, I learned a lot without having to ask many questions; a very rare treat!

4) My muscadines are planted in a trench where I removed a foot of clay, broke up another foot of clay and rototilled in sand, gravel, perlite and humus. After fifteen years, they are still alive; but then, muscadines are native grapes.
I do plan to replant some Concords’ and Niagaras’ grapes; but I have pretty well given up on vinifera hybrids.

5) I learned early on, to lean heavily on local experts. Get acquainted with the local cooperative extension services! Even farmers depend upon the local cooperative extension services.

There are several state extension services well worth checking the latest research. Pennsylvania’s is a great start. Virginia’s is good as are Illinois and Minnesota.

There are few joys/flavors equal to tree/vine/plant ripened fruit!
Virtually none of the fruit in grocery stores are tree ripened. Even local farmers must pick early, keep cold until there is a decent market then ripen with ethylene.
Many of the peaches, plums, raspberries, figs and grapes do not travel well when fully ripe. Apples can take more bumping around, but even apples tend not to all ripen equally. Commercial growers don’t want to revisit trees, so all apples are picked.

Perhaps, I should include the few pawpaw trees on my property? A cherimoya relative, they bruise as easily as the most delicate white peaches.

Good luck with your orchard TRM!

Reply to  ATheoK
December 2, 2017 8:06 am

ATheoK, I want you for my orchardist!!! Darn nice workup on what should be grown where.

December 2, 2017 7:55 am

Boy that orchardist had better hope David Dilly is wrong or 2019-40 will do him in.
Maybe we’ll all be drinking Haskap Wine as those berries grow way up in climate zone 2.

December 3, 2017 4:23 pm

I commented on this here:

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