I’m trying to tell my inner CA winemaker to shut up. It’s raining and it’s going to be raining for 5 days. Then we have 3 days of warm and sun and then more rain. Do I pick everything in the window or do I hold out that we might get an Indian Summer mid October. Such is the life of an East Coast winemaker. We, like the folks on the west coast have a general guarantee of weather. Usually it will be less than ideal for harvesting so we all turn into gamblers. Some pick early, some pick later but we all get to compare results at the end which is what makes it fun.
This summer has been amazing for the vinifera grapes. The severe drought has made berry sizes almost 25% smaller which should make for very concentrated flavor however acids have been dropping rapidly. I’m off to cruise through the Riesling and some of the Cab Franc this morning. Hopefully they will hold up through the next few days of rain in order to fully realize the gift that nature has given us as a vintage this year.
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.