Hello everybody! If we have not had the opportunity to meet yet, my name is Sarah Lowder and I am the new Viticulture Extension Specialist for UGA! I got started earlier this March and have been able to meet many of you thus far (but hope to meet the rest of you soon!). Though I was born and raised outside of Charlotte, NC, I am moving here from the Willamette Valley of Oregon where I have recently finished my PhD at Oregon State University. I am excited to work on determining ‘Best Practices’ for Georgia grape growers to both increase grape quality while also reducing the labor requirements as much as possible.

If you have questions, requests, or comments for me, please reach out! My email is sarah.lowder@uga.edu. I’ve now taken over administration of the Vit Blog, so if you have suggestions or requests for me or for one of the rest of our wonderful UGA Viticulture Team, let us know.

For some reflections on this March – Since I’ve started, we’ve had very warm spells and already had a frost and/or freeze event in Georgia. Coupled with the warm weather that sped up bud break for many grape varieties, there are some grapes that may look like these:

This is a picture of Lomanto grapes in Watkinsville, GA from March 22nd.

Dealing with frosts and freezes has not been a new issue for Georgia grapes, especially over the last couple years. Many grape varieties cannot tolerate temperatures below 29.8 degrees F after budbreak, though Vitis vinifera varieties tend to be more sensitive to cold than many hybrids (like Norton or Chardonel) or other Vitis species (like Concord or Niagara which are Vitis labrusca). While many areas or varieties may have escaped the worst of the harm from the frosts and/or freezes this March, the vines still may have been affected by the December Freeze event. Regardless, there’s not much that can be done after the fact (unless you’ve been planning for delayed pruning). The best steps for frost and freeze protection involve planning for them ahead of time. If you’re interested in learning more about how to plan and prepare for frost or freeze events in the future, check out some of the resources below.

More Resources: