Vineyard predicts good harvest despite summer challenges

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ROCHEPORT- Les Bourgeois Vineyards celebrated the end of another successful growing season in mid-Missouri on Saturday. 

The annual Crush festival brings people together to celebrate the harvest season while crushing grapes with their feet. 

“For those of us who work in the industry it is kind of a party, you know we see people that we haven’t seen all summer, ‘cuz we’ve been working really hard,” Les Bourgeois partner Drew Lemberger said. 

This summer the growers faced high temperatures and rainfall. 

Despite the challenges, Lemberger said this year's crop is ripening nicely. 

"I think it’s going to be a really good vintage from the stuff we’ve seen so far that has come into the winery so, best vintage ever? Ehh, probably not, but it’s going to be a pretty good one. I think it's going to be a good year for flavor and I think yields are going to be pretty good too,” Lemberger said. 

The Missouri wine industry also faces humidity, diseases and aggressive insects, yet Lemberger said the ancient industry is still renown for its unique quality wines. 

A 2015 report from Missouri Wines reported 950,000 tourists visited Missouri wineries in 2013.  

"The Missouri industry has really grown by leaps and bounds as far as the total number of wineries and I think that is kind of trending throughout the whole Midwest, in more of the continental areas," Lemberger said. 

The report also states that from 2009-2013 the number of wineries throughout the state increased by 32 percent. 

Lemberger is a fan of the trending growth in the industry.

“I think it’s still pretty cordial for the most part," Lemberger said. "Missouri industry I know for a fact, you know, most of the producers go, you know, they’ll bend over backwards to try and help their neighbor or even their direct competitor because it’s a big market and we realize we’re such a small percentage of it."

Lemberger said Les Bourgeois is the second largest winery in the state.

While the winery's market share is growing and Lemberger said there is still room to grow. 

The winery usually produces around 180,000 gallons a year and is estimating 200,000 gallons for this year.