Winery persists through drought conditions

Winery persists through drought conditions
Philippe Coquard

A Prairie du Sac winery is expecting a better quality vintage this year after 2012’s drought almost killed whole vines.

Farmers continue to go through tough times with parts of southern Wisconsin in a moderate drought and western areas in a severe drought.

In contrast, the grape harvest at Wollersheim Winery in Prairie du Sac looks promising, according to owners.

Winemaker Philippe Coquard described the harvest as a 24/7 production. 

“If it’s a blush we press it right away. If it’s a red it goes into the tanks for two weeks. So you go from wine to receiving grapes, receiving juice, pumping juice, inoculating with yeast; it varies every minute of the day,” said Coquard.

Coquard said they expect to have more wine than last year.

“Last year because of spring frost, early spring and drought we had a rather small crop and we ran out of those wines too soon,” said Coquard.

The 2012 drought got so extreme Wollersheim Winery put in an irrigation system after persisting through several decades without. Coquard’s wife Julie said they were able to save much of their crop because of it, but they still lost 27 percent of their expected product.

“It was a lot of sleepless nights. Fighting the frost meant getting up at 2 a.m. to run the machines to try to keep the vineyard warm, and then just all the worry of how are we going to keep the vines from drying out,” said Julie Coquard, vice president and marketing director.

Winery persists through drought conditions

This year is different. Spring rain and a lot of sunshine were good conditions to ripen grapes, balancing the flavor and sweetness before they are turned into wine.

Both Coquards said this year is busy, but they are relieved to have a better quality crop.