This week marks the end of harvest here in New York for me. We only have a few vineyards left to pick. All of the vinifera was safely in the door week before last and now the tanks are going through fermentation. The photo above is one of the Pumpovers on my first Cabernet Franc from the area. There were several key surprises that I have been intrigued by.
1) The berry size is almost twice what I am used to seeing.
2) The sugar is dramatically lower than other areas. This was somewhat expected being in a cool climate but the reality is definitely a change from my previous Cab Franc experiences.
3) There are minimal bell pepper flavors. This was very exciting suggesting the sugar ripeness issue may be dealing with crop load rather than environmental issues since the flavors are ripe.
4) Cabernet Franc Rose is amazing!!!! I’m very excited about my Rose this year
5) The Riesling is as good as I remember and I’m very happy to report that both of my Rieslings look very promising at this stage. One is through fermentation and the other is almost finished.
The Cabernet Franc is almost dry so we are still managing the cap there but backing off at this point. It has been a challenging year but they all are to some extent here. I’m excited to be back and invigorated with the challenges and surprises I’ve seen this year. I can’t wait to see how the wines turn out!
These past two weeks have been quite hot and dry for this area. Highs around 90 and very few cool nights. We just had rain over the weekend but I can’t speculate how much as of yet. Fall showed up yesterday bringing cloudy skies and blustery winds. The trees are starting to let the green fade away to be replaced by Crimson, orange and yellow. The vinifera are ripening quickly spurred on by the heat. TAs are dropping more quickly than I remember as well. It makes me worried that the fruit that I thought would be ready in October will be ready while I am away in China.
Speaking of China, I am supposed to leave this Thursday but am still waiting on flight confirmations. I have my visa now so if I can get flights I am set.
This looks to be a great year for reds in the Finger Lakes. The Cabernet Franc we are picking for Constellation was one I was concerned about earlier in the year but after visiting the vineyard on Friday I am encouraged that I will be able to make some very nice wine. So much on the weather in the next 3-4 weeks as it always does this time of year.
Cabernet Franc over Keuka on Friday.
Meanwhile I am counting my blessings that we moved when we did. Napa and Lake counties are experiencing one of the worst fire seasons in recent memory. Thousands of people have been displaced by the Valley Fire and with 50,000 acres burned or burning as of last night it can only be described as devastating. I’m sure vineyards that I used to work with in the proximity of Middletown are probably gone. It is so sad and heartwrenching to see the photos. While Napa itself remains mostly unscathed, the smoke is hanging in the air which I know can be challenging for daily life, much less winemaking. My prayers go out to everyone affected and the Firefighters that are courageously trying contain this monster fire.
It was a year ago today that the earth shook at 3:15 am and I turned to my husband and said “That’s it! I’m ready to go home now.” After seeing twitter light up over a 4.3 or so quake in Oakland last week I’m reminded to be grateful that I’m on much more stable ground this harvest in more ways than one.
At the first of last year’s harvest posts, I was musing that I may need to add a week 0 to the round of posts and this year I definitely would have needed that week as much of California got off to a fast start at the end of July for one of the earliest harvests on record. (Unfortunately I am unable to link last year’s week 1 post since it has been deleted some how…) This was largely due to a very warm January and February which led to an early bud break. This has been another drought year and the fires have been terrible this year. I hope that the rumors of it not impacting the vineyards have been true. Having lived through selling the 2008 wines of Alexander Valley, I know it can be problematic. I have heard rumors of 25 and 26 Brix Cabernet Sauvignon in some areas meaning that everything is coming ripe (at least sugar wise) around the same time. I shutter to think about the amount of water which will go into the fruit this year to try to tame the rapidly climbing brix.
Meanwhile, back in New York…
Cabernet Franc on Keuka Lake
After one of the coldest winters on record which included snow on Easter this year, we are getting back on track after a season which has spent much of the year behind. We saw 7-8 inches of rain in June with only 8 days in the entire month without rain. We are accustomed to rain here but that was pretty intense. One grower stated that he didn’t get a chance to get off the tractor on the clear days when he could get into the vineyards. The good news is that the growers out here are used to the wet stuff and I have seen very little mildew issues. The remainder of the summer has been lovely. We’ve flirted with 90 a few days this month but the majority have been a very nice 75-85 range for the highs and most nights are cool enough for the windows to stay open. We are still waiting for veraison in Cabernet Franc but Lemberger (aka Blaufrankish to the rest of the world) was turning about 2 weeks ago. Most of the vinfera fruit will be ready to harvest in October and we won’t get started with Natives and Hybrids until the end of this month. While California is looking at another harvest spread over 3 months, I’m enjoying the last days of summer and looking forward to smelling the first fall mornings sometime next month.
A friend’s Riesling vineyard overlooking Cayuga Lake
I’m also frantically trying to get my Visa for China and can’t wait to see what that harvest will be like. Hopefully it will oblige with a late September harvest which will put me back in New York just in time for the vinifera varieties to be harvested.