Good weather accelerates grape harvest
FINGER LAKES--With autumn weather, area wineries have begun their annual grape harvests for this year. While some area vineyards are anticipating lighter harvest numbers, they say the quality is good and with the nice weather, the grapes have been ripening faster, which could potentially lead to a quicker harvest.
David Whiting, owner of Red Newt Cellars in Hector, said they began harvesting their early varieties a couple weeks ago, but will really start to "get in the thick of it" the week after next. He estimates some types of grapes are between 10 and 40 percent down from last year, which varies by grape type. But due to what Whiting describes as stupendous summer and fall weather, he noted this will be a quicker harvest season than usual.
Whiting said they have only brought in a couple tons so far of their smaller quantity varieties, adding they will start bringing in their Riesling next week. The estimated harvest completion will take place in about three weeks. Whiting said things are usually more spread out in a normal year. He added the quality of the grapes is also looking great so far.
David Stamp, vineyard manager of Lakewood Vineyards in Watkins Glen, said they began harvesting their first grapes Sept. 10, noting they are close to halfway done with their harvest. Stamp said while some grapes like Gewurztraminer and Cabernet Franc are having light years, the nice September weather has allowed the fruit to ripen nicely.
"This beautiful September was the icing on the cake for some varieties," Stamp said.
He estimates they have already brought in a couple hundred tons of grapes out of 450 tons. Stamp said while the grapes are looking to be ahead of schedule this year, they are taking their time with the harvest to let some grapes ripen more on the vine.
Sayre Fulkerson, owner of Fulkerson Winery in Dundee, said he estimates some viniferas to be down 30 percent or more depending on grape type. However, Fulkerson also agreed the warm weather has led to more advanced ripening in the region. Because of this, Fulkerson suspects he will be able to finish the harvest sooner than he normally would. He started harvesting the early grapes three weeks ago, anticipating the harvest to be completed by the second week in October. Fulkerson estimates he has harvested between 70 and 80 tons of grapes so far, with 300 more tons to go.