Large_hail070309By Lenn Thompson, Executive Editor

Most of eastern Long Island was under a severe thunderstorm warning yesterday evening. The storms, which came in waves, brought high winds, heavy rains, hail and even tornados apparently.

I know that we were under two different tornado warnings at my house.

Not long after the storms starting pummeling the North Fork, reports starting coming in of hail damage to local vineyard — Jamesport Vineyards and Comtesse Therese Vineyard to be precise.

According to long-time grower Ron Goerler, owner of Jamesport Vineyards, his vineyard sustained around 20% loss, telling me in an email "Jamesport was hit with tornadic winds with hail. The west side of the fruit has a fair
amount of damage — split berries."

Theresa Dilworth, owner of Comtesse Therese forwarded me an email from her husband and vineyard manager Sammy Shimura. Half-inch hail hit the vineyard yesterday afternoon and according to Shimura, "Almost all clusters were hit and our fruit
got damaged. (On) average 3 or 4
berries of each cluster
were slashed. Hail came down from the southwest sky and hit
clusters on the southwest side. The northeast side and clusters were not damaged."

With split and damaged berries, the concern now — beyond loss of fruit itself — is the spread of disease, which will now need to be managed.

Has anyone else heard about other vineyards being hit by the storms yesterday? If so, please put it in the comments. I'll update the post as new reports come in.

This has been an incredible growing season thus far, but growers know better than to assume anything. Don't believe it when you read people already talking about 2010 being an 'outstanding' year. It's way too early for that.