If a nice glass of wine is on your agenda for the weekend, you might want to savour it because grape growers are worried about the coming season’s crop.

Work crews were pruning and securing vines to trellises at the Georgian Hills Vineyards near Thornbury on Friday while John Ardiel carefully inspected buds that are starting to form on the vines. Ardiel says there are plenty of signs of damage from the extreme cold this past winter.

“This is some of the winter injured wood that we have taken out, and it's the health of the buds and as you see it's brown, it's been totally killed out.”

Estimates are that's 75% of this year’s fruit buds froze on some of the more sensitive varieties like Pinot Noir and Chardonnay. Fortunately local growers plant mostly hybrids that are much more resistant to cold temperatures.

Winter damage on the majority of the vineyard's acreage is limited to around 20% and a full crop is still expected. Mounding snow over the winter also helped protect some of the vines from the cold.

In the Niagara Region, the Ontario Grape Growers association says winter damage varies from location to location but overall it's not as bad as initially feared.

“We are pleasantly surprised by some varieties like Chardonnay, Gewürztraminer, Riesling - they are showing better bud break than expected so that's positive. It looks like we are going to come through this, we will have a crop. I can't say if it will be 60% or 70% but there will definitely be grape harvested in Niagara this year,” says Bill George.

Meantime in Beaver Valley, workers are being careful to preserve more of the vines as they prune to help the damaged plants recover for next year.  Ardiel says grape growers always anticipate some losses and there is still plenty of wine in the cellar. 

“Fortunately over the past few years we have had some really good crops so our inventories are right up there and we won't miss a beat in terms of our ability to retail wine.”

Grapes won't bloom until late June, that's when growers will have a better idea what the harvest will really look like.  Producers are hoping for some warmer weather.