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Severe weather sets grape farmer back 2 years

Posted at 7:27 AM, Jul 07, 2021
and last updated 2021-07-07 17:49:11-04

ELGIN, Ariz. (KGUN) — Trouble in Southern Arizona's wine country isn't stopping one grape farmer from pushing ahead.

Richard Diefenterfer started work on his vineyard nine years ago. He grows five types of grapes.

"We had an early freeze a really hard freeze at the beginning of October," said Diefenterfer. "That was compounded by the fact that we got hit really bad with a hailstorm in August of last year."

He explained that severe weather tore through his six-acre vineyard.

“The vines just need some warning, and they need signals to start going dormant like trees," said Diefenderfer."But, here we just had an immediate [drop in temperature]. [It was] down to the 20s. The water pipes burst, and it caused a lot of winter kill with my vines and some other vines around here too.”

Before and after of severe weather

He said it is going to take him two years to recover.

The weather didn't just set back production, he said it set opening his taste room.

“I just got through all the permitting the licensing and everything and we're going to build a really nice tasting room and winery here. We look to be kicking or breaking ground in the next two weeks," he explained.

Despite the bumps in the road, Diefenterfer is optimistic.

“We’re still holding out hope. I’m hoping a vine-like this is going to come back. When I snip it, ya know, there's still some green in here,” he said.“If farmers gave up every time they had a problem. I think we'd all starve."