New York anticipates a larger and much earlier harvest this year than it had in 2009.
The New York Department of Agriculture predicts the total crop (including table and wine grapes) will be 170,000 US tonnes, up from 2009’s relatively low 128,000 tonnes.
Growers across the state estimate they will start picking anywhere from one to three weeks earlier than last year.
‘This could be our best vintage in a decade or more,’ said Jim Trezise, president of the New York Wine & Grape Foundation.
Producers like Peter Martini, vineyard manager at Anthony Road Wine Company on Seneca Lake, point to outstanding weather.
‘It has been a great year to grow everything, the fruit is looking wonderful,’ he said.
‘We are in a “la Niña” year, which means we will have some good hang time which we rarely get. Now the problem is how to keep the birds off and the disease away.’
Bob Madill, general manager of Sheldrake Point Vineyard on Cayuga Lake, is cautiously optimistic.
‘It’s always a temptation in a year like this to call it a “great red year” because of the notional opportunity for the fruit to hang longer,’ he said.
‘We definitely have the have the potential for great quality across the board. The white aromatics also seem to do well. But this is a critical period, and we still have to make it through September.’
Rich Olsen-Harbich, winemaker for Bedell Cellars in Cutchogue, on Long Island’s North Fork, said the number of growing degree days (a measure of heat accumulation) – 300-500 more than usual – is unprecedented.
‘We’ve had warm years that were not very sunny, but this year we’ve had much more sunlight than ever,’ he said.
Olsen-Harbich also noted that early-ripening grapes such as Chardonnay, destined for sparkling wine, would be picked particularly early – but that picking of reds would depend on conditions over the next few weeks.
Written by Maggie Rosen