T.S. Eliot wrote that April is the cruelest month. But in the Midwest (or The North), that designation is probably reserved for May—the month that makes you believe the cold weather is finally gone, only to slap you back to reality with a string of near-freezing temps.
That’s what happened last weekend, much to the chagrin of winemakers in southeastern Minnesota and southern Wisconsin, whose vineyards were decimated by the untimely frost.
Many of the region’s grapevines had started to bud—coaxed to life by the 80- and 90-degree days earlier in the month. Then, the freezing temperatures turned the water in the buds to ice, killing the plant’s tissue.
According to the Wisconsin Grape Growers Association, at least 30 vineyards west of Madison lost more than half of their crop.
Even though the frost was isolated to a small section of the region, this is likely the most disastrous weather event for Midwest wine since the Polar Vortex of 2014 killed buds with frost in much the same fashion.