Hail Storm Pummels Old Mission Peninsula Grapes

Local winemakers say a hail storm on Wednesday night tore through vineyards on the Old Mission Peninsula and hurt their grape crop.

Staff from local vineyards say a brief, and super localized hail storm literally split open their grapes. Winemakers are assessing damage and how much of their crop they can salvage, but some say as much as a quarter of their grapes are damaged.

“It just popped up right here,” said Hawthorne Vineyards winemaker Brian Hosmer. “We had crews up in the orchard, and hail took out probably 20-percent of the crop in this vineyard, and probably half, to a quarter of the crop in the other vineyard.”

The Old Mission Peninsula has a unique microclimate which makes it ideal for growing grapes, but sometimes they get weather events that the rest of us don’t.

Wednesday night, a super isolated hail storm pummeled the grapes for 20 minutes, splitting them open.

Hawthorne has worked on the peninsula for eleven years and says he doesn’t see hail like that too often.

Colleen Drzewicki was working at the Hawthorne Vineyard tasting room when the storm rolled through.

“It was just bizarre,” said Drzewicki. “Super dark. Stormy. Lightning just started appearing all around. Then it just started pouring rain.”

A few of the grapes on the hail’s hit list were cab franc, pinot noir, chardonnay and the merlot at Hawthorne.

“Up until this, it looked beautiful, we were really ahead on heat accumulation, and the crops have been consistent and even for us,” said Hosmer.

After the storm, Hosmer and his crew sprayed the fruit with Sulphur to help the plant dry out, and heal the cracks.

“We might remove some of the damaged fruit, we might leave some of it there, but at this point, we’re trying to see if we can dry it out and see what remains,” said Hosmer.

Brian says the vineyard will harvest the grapes this fall. Until then, the extent of the damage won’t be known. In his estimates, the worst case scenario is that 45 tons of grapes may be affected.