A helicopter flew over Creekbend Vineyard north of Bloomington in the wee hours of the morning Wednesday as vineyard manager Bernie Parker looked on. It followed the same path, helping circulate the cool air and keep a cold air mass from harming the delicate fruit.
“There is a definite increase in the temperatures where they go and so we set them up with a pattern that can get them back to their starting point every 5 to 6 minutes,” Parker says.
Wine grapes are at risk because of the unusually warm temperatures this winter. The buds on the grapes broke early and with the cooler temperatures bearing down on South Central Indiana, grape growers are being forced to scramble to protect their vineyards from frost.
By traveling the same path, the helicopter is able to pull warm air from the upper current levels and effectively raise the temperature in the vineyard. Oliver Winery, the owners of Creekbend Vineyard is using the helicopter in addition to 2 tall fans that also circulate the air but can only cover about half of the crop.
Another frost is expected Wednesday night.