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Drought not posing threat to wine grapes, industry spokeswoman says

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Rain has finally arrived in many parts of Western New York, in what's otherwise been an abnormally dry summer. A spokeswoman for Niagara Wine Trail, USA says wine drinkers need not panic: this summer's drought will not devastate the crop.

Most of Western New York is currently classified as being under severe drought, according to the United State Drought Monitor, a partnership involving the federal government and University of Nebraska-Lincoln.

Warm, dry summers are generally good for wine grapes, according to Elizabeth Maute of Niagara Wine Trail USA. But this summer's drought has created drier than desired conditions. Still, vintners have provided feedback that hints at a good crop, in spite of the lack of rain.

"What I've been hearing along the wine trail is that we're going to be staying on target with our regular harvest," Maute told WBFO. "We might be a couple days early, not too much earlier than normal."

And as for their quality?

"The sugar content is going to be really high in the grapes so far this year," Maute added. "We're going to have really good quality wines coming out of this harvest. Maybe not as large of a quantity as we would have hoped for."

While she wouldn't calculate how much lower the quantity might be, Maute said prospects are good for mature crops. Some vintners lost vines over the past couple years because frosts arrived later than desired, followed by harsh winter conditions. While some of those vines may lose a year's grape growth, Maute says on the whole the region's industry has been generally blessed.

"No cause for panic," she said.

Michael Mroziak is an experienced, award-winning reporter whose career includes work in broadcast and print media. When he joined the WBFO news staff in April 2015, it was a return to both the radio station and to Horizons Plaza.
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