Wineries say 2020 harvest is far different than years past

White wine grapes about to be processed at Jefferson Vineyards.
White wine grapes about to be processed at Jefferson Vineyards.(WVIR)
Updated: Sep. 25, 2020 at 7:31 PM EDT
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, Va. (WVIR) - Fall is officially here and wineries are beginning to harvest their product, but that process looks very different in 2020 thanks to COVID-19.

Many wineries across central Virginia turn to the public this time of year for help bringing grapes in. The “wine for work,” deals usually send volunteers home with a bottle or two. This year, pandemic restrictions are preventing many from doing that.

Chris Ritzcoven of Jefferson Vineyards says they usually hired professional crews to help harvest. Ironically, thanks to unseasonably late frosts and summer downpours dramatically reducing the size of the harvest, they did not need to bring in extra help.

“We usually bring in a big group of people to help us pick,” Ritzcoven explained. "We have less of a worry because we have reduced crop loads with the frost, but we’ve kind of been keeping everything in house due to COVID regulations.”

Ritzcoven says despite the challenging year, there still will be some good wines. Merlot, and the Viognier and Chardonnay that survived late frosts are looking good.

While output will be lower this year, vineyards hope that next year will be better, as most vines had a year to rest and recharge.

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