September 2, 2015–This week’s very hot, sunny weather is speeding up grape ripening in the Finger Lakes. We always expect harvest to begin in September, but a week of temperatures in the upper 80s is bringing it on faster than expected. Great August weather (dry with sunshine and warm temperatures) coupled with a relatively dry and warm September forecast is creating the potential for a great harvest. Here’s a preview of how our grapes are shaping up for this year. You can also follow us on Facebook and Instagram for up-to-the-minute harvest photos and videos.
Pinot Noir is always the first grape we harvest, and it looks like it will be ready to pick in the next week or two. With help from NYS’s New Farmer Grant, we were able to install netting over most of the Pinot Noir this year to keep out pests such as birds, deer and raccoons. In the pictures below, you can see the pristine fruit under the nets compared with the uncovered fruit that has been pecked by birds. The netting will give us a larger, higher quality crop, and reduce the amount of time we spend sorting out damaged fruit. Pinot Noir will be made into two different wines– Dry Rose and red Pinot Noir.
Chardonnay will be the second grape we harvest. This year, we will be making a very small amount of Chardonnay because half of our vines were pulled out due to a virus. The good news is that the quality should be better than ever since all of the fruit is coming from healthy vines. Below, see some of the very-photogenic Chardonnay grapes ripening on the vine. These are typically harvested late September.
Gewurztraminer ripens in early October. It has already taken on its characteristic pink color and tastes delightful! You can see these grapes next to our parking lot when you visit the tasting room. Gewurztraminer grapes get sweeter than any other variety we grow, so therefore is capable of making the highest alcohol wine (sugar + yeast = alcohol + CO2). We use these grapes to make a varietal Gewurztraminer and it also adds spiciness to our Good Earth White blend.
Riesling still has a long time to go on the vine. The grapes taste very tart right now, but will ripen nicely given the warm, sunny days and cool evenings forecast for September and October. This is one of our oldest vines–you can tell by the very thick, tree-like trunk. As vines get older, they tend to produce less fruit, but its more concentrated and interesting. This vine was planted in 1982. Riesling will be harvested mid-to-late October. We use these grapes for our Riesling STV Estate Vineyard and Dry Riesling.
Cabernet Franc & Cabernet Sauvignon are still undergoing veraison, the change in color from green to black and the beginning of the final phase of ripening. They will be ready in late October, and are also benefiting from netting to keep out pests. Wild animals have good taste–they are always attracted to the most expensive grapes! These two varieties will be blended to make Blackbird, our dry red blend. 2015 will mark the first year our Blackbird wine is 100% estate grown.