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TRI-COUNTY AREA   ADVERTISEMENT

Grape harvest looks 'disappointing'

TRI-COUNTY AREA—Even as snow settles on the ground, many wineries in the region are still out in the vineyards picking grapes.
The weather has prompted different actions from grape growers in order to make the best out of this harvest. Due to a wet and cool summer, there are some wineries that have left the grapes out on the vines for a longer time.
Sayre Fulkerson, owner and winemaker of Fulkerson’s Winery in Dundee, said his winery is about three and a half weeks behind in the harvest. He said last year’s grapes had a warmer season, while this year it has been a cooler climate. He explained that Fulkerson’s is currently harvesting midseason grapes when they are normally harvesting late season grapes. He added the harvest size is not as big as last year.
However, Fulkerson said the Riesling grapes like the cooler weather. He added that overall Chardonnay and Gewurztraminer grapes have a good ripeness.
Amy Hoffman, owner of Rooster Hill Vineyards in Penn Yan, said the weather has bumped back harvesting about a week. She explained this year the Pinot Noir grapes were harvested starting Oct. 8, and last year starting Sept. 29. She added the Chardonnay harvest started Oct. 7 this year and Oct. 2 last year.
“We’re letting (the grapes) hang longer than normal,” she said, because of the cold weather.
Hoffman explained that to combat the weather the winery sprayed the grapes to keep them clean while still on the vines. She added the grapes were thinned out so the remaining grapes could grow larger.
Mark Karasz, owner of Rock Stream Vineyards in Rock Stream, said the weather has not been affecting their harvests as much as other wineries. He did say his Cayuga grapes have not ripened like last year because of their sensitivity. He also added the DeChaunac grapes would need sugar and that the Aurora grape harvest came in 40 percent less than last year. On the other hand, Karasz said Rock Stream Vineyard’s Elvira grape harvest came in 20 percent higher than last year.
“Each variety has a different twist on how it reacts to weather,” he said. Karasz added they are “not seeing a disaster like we thought.”
“In a word, disappointing,” said Rick Evans, wine marker for Castel Grisch in Watkins Glen, about this year’s harvest.
He said for Castel Grisch the harvest time hasn’t changed compared to last year. However, Evans explained that the grapes are just not ripening. He said sugar levels are not the same.
“We were spoiled last year,” he said.
Evans said for Castel Grisch the grapes that have suffered the most are the later season varieties, which are red grapes.
John Zuccarino, winemaker for Silver Springs Winery in Burdett, said he decided to pick most of the white grapes earlier than usual because the weather did not look so good. He explained it was a tough decision because he couldn’t predict how the summer would end.
“I know weather, if she’s stubborn, she’s stubborn,” he said.
From the white grapes he’s harvested, Zuccarino said the acidity has been a bit high, but with good flavors. For red grapes, Zuccarino said it wouldn’t be a good harvest unless it is an Indian Summer. However, he’s not just relying on the weather. Zuccarino explained he is putting the red grapes on straw matting and under ultraviolet lights.
 





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