Ask Wine Wizard

Getting Grape Updates During Growing Season


Stephen Boyle — Colonia, New Jersey asks,


Is there a website or another resource I can use to check to determine whether the growing conditions were favorable in a particular AVA before I buy grapes from that area?

Sometimes local AVA (American Viticultural Area) groups will have data available on their websites or emails available to members (the latter is the case with, for example, Napa Valley Vintners). For the most part, however, home winemakers won’t be members of these kinds of groups (they can cost thousands of dollars to join) so they will have to seek out data independently. Many viticulturalists and winemakers I know subscribe to newsletters and data services like those from Western Weather Group (westernweathergroup.com) or Weather Bell (weatherbell.com). You can look up forecasts for a given area, current conditions as well as browse searchable and downloadable historic data in order to get an idea of how an area is progressing. Sadly, these are not wine-specific in any way, though most will provide an agricultural-based data set like degree days from certain dates, etc., which can help predict when grapes will ripen. This kind of forecasting and historical weather information isn’t free, however. For example, Weather Bell costs $270/year for a personal/non-professional subscription and $660/year for a professional/business subscription. It might be worth poking
Response by Alison Crowe.