Seneca Lake’s Blanket

Jan. 15, 2015–  This is the time of year we love Seneca Lake the  most.  Yes, its too cold to swim, sail or fish.  And winter’s northwesterly winds make it painful to even take in the lake view from the outdoors.  Yet this is the time of year when Seneca Lake works its wonders and makes viticulture possible.

The night of January 13/14 dipped into negative temperatures for the first time this winter.  The Cornell weather stations at nearby Standing Stone and Lamoreaux Landing recorded -6 and -4 degree Fahrenheit temperatures, respectively. Contrast that with weather reports from towns further away from the lakes that registered -14 or lower on the same night.

A few feet below its surface, Seneca Lake stays roughly 50 degrees year-round.  Its massive volume of water prevents it from freezing and the heat trapped within creates condensation in the winter that warms the surrounding vineyards.  These dramatic photos were taken early in the morning on January 14 and January 15.  They show the cloud of relatively warmer air created by the lake when masses of cold air flow overhead.  These clouds protect vineyards like ours that are planted close to the shore with a blanket-like effect.


Most of our vines are cold-hardy to slightly below-zero temperatures (it depends on the variety).  To be safe, we hope for temperatures to stay above zero for the rest of the winter.  The long-range forecast looks promising.  We know that Seneca Lake will help us toward that end.