Severe Storms Devastate Vineyards


A series of storms this summer has left many vines with no grapes, a devastating impact on Nebraska vineyards. Many areas have been hit multiple times with hail, high winds and rain dealing a blow to grape growers.

This year would have been George Spencer Tasting Room's first close to full harvest, but they lost 90 percent of their crop. The Kegley's said all of their plants are still alive and will bear more fruit.

"If you see that high wire it's about six feet off the ground so the shoots would be touching the ground and I think that they were pretty close to when it got hail damage," said Tiffany Kegley, grape grower in Gibbon.

Before the storms hit, people could barely see through to the next row of grapes and now all 24 rows can be seen.

"They should be able to survive; it might take them a couple of years to come out of it,” Kegley said. “We have been treating them like we normally would to help prevent disease from getting inside of them."

Grape growers have to keep a close eye on their vineyards, there are factors like spray damage, fungus, bugs and weather that could wipe out crops.

TheKegleyss started growing back in 2007 and this year was going to be their first close to full harvest, but now they're left with just two acres to pick after hail destroyed the rest.

"Just seeing all the fields wiped out, I've never seen anything like that,” said the owner of George Spencer Tasting Room, Stefan Kegley. “It was like everything got taken back into January because all the fields were mowed down to the ground."

The Kegleys grow nine different verities of grapes available for local wineries.

"When you talk about the literal numbers, that was about 30,000 bottles of wine that kind of just got destroyed," Stefan Kegley said.

They're staying optimistic though, with growers helping growers.

"The people that you work with in the industry is like a family,” he said. “It probably is the greatest industry I have ever been a part of just because everybody is into helping each other."

Feather River in North Platte is one of the vineyards going out of their way to help out, making sure some of the smaller wineries have grapes available so there will be wine next year. The vineyard said they have sold over 70,000 pounds of grapes to six different vineyards.