October 10, 2013–Riesling harvest is upon us. The queen of cool-climate grapes has just enjoyed six weeks of brilliant Indian Summer weather. Flavors have developed beautifully due to warm sunny days and cool nights. Acids have dropped to a desirable level for winemaking. Sugars are slowly inching up. While ripeness levels haven’t reached 2012’s heights, things are setting up for another great Riesling year in the Finger Lakes.
We’ve checked in with each of our Riesling vineyards this week and will now provide you with an update on each.
Gridley Riesling is perched high on the bluff overlooking the eastern fork of Keuka Lake.
Gridley Bluff Point Vineyard (Keuka Lake): Donna and Louis Gridley farm about 80 acres on the bluff of Keuka Lake (the piece of land in between the two forks that make the Y-shape). Most of their vineyard is native and hybrid varieties, but they planted one acre of Riesling as an experiment about 6 years ago. Their site is located on one of the highest elevations within the Finger Lakes, with a southeastern aspect and fairly deep, loamy soil. Riesling from this site is characterized by flavors of candied peaches and fresh green stems.
The most interesting things about both Gridley and O’Neill Riesling vineyards is that they are each only one acre and are exclusively used by Silver Thread.
- Randolph O’Neill Vineyard faces east overlooking Cayuga Lake
Randolph O’Neill Vineyard (Cayuga Lake): Kelley and Angela O’Neill planted their one-acre Riesling vineyard on the western shore of Cayuga Lake about 10 years ago. Located mid-way up the lake in Ovid, the vines are only a couple of hundred yards from the water. Kelley is a meticulous farmer, which shows in the consistent quality of wines produced from his grapes. Riesling from this site bears the classic mark of Cayuga Lake, with intense floral, green apple and grape aromas, remarkable delicacy and a deep earthy note.
Doyle Riesling overlooks Silver Thread Vineyard and Seneca Lake from the east side.
Doyle East Seneca Vineyard (Seneca Lake): Doyle East Seneca Vineyard is adjacent and uphill from Silver Thread Vineyard, and has deeper, silt-loam soils. This vineyard was planted in 1973 by Charles Fournier, one of the founding fathers of the modern Finger Lakes wine industry, and is currently farmed by Matt and Carre Doyle. One of the oldest vineyards in the Finger Lakes, the Doyle grapes tell the story of our region like none other. Riesling from this site makes wine with ample stone fruit and pear aromas, plus more weight in the mouth than a typical Riesling.
- Silver Thread’s oldest Riesling planting is at the top of the hill next to our red storage barn.
STV Estate Vineyard: Planted in 1982 on shallow, shale-heavy soils, Silver Thread’s Estate Riesling Vineyard produces a wine of unparalleled interest. Low-yielding, 30-year-old vines create Riesling with ample minerality, lemon-lime zestiness, and hints of exotic jasmine. This year, we plan to harvest and ferment our two Estate Riesling blocks separately. The block closer to the lake is following a different ripening pattern, with lower acidity and deeper flavors than the block further up the hill.
Riesling harvest for Silver Thread will begin next week. At this point, fruit in all four of these vineyards is relatively free of disease and continuing to ripen slowly. Due to heavy rain last weekend, however, various grape rots are spreading around the region and we are pressured to pick before the crop is compromised.