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Life Is Good in the Finger Lakes, So Far

David Whiting reports that 2008 has been as warm as 2007, but with more rain.

Posted: Sep 22, 2008 1:18pm ET

By David Whiting

Posted by David Whiting

The 2008 vintage is upon us, and what an exciting vintage it is. In truth, every vintage rolls in on wheels of excitement. Every year in New York's Finger Lakes is different. This summer was quite warm, in fact about as warm as 2007, one of the ripest vintages of the decade. What sets the two vintages apart is the amount of moisture in the vineyards.

In 2008, we had more than enough rain, requiring the input of substantial time and expense to keep vineyards clean, canopies managed and fruit exposed, but at the same time providing plenty of water to develop healthy leaves for photosynthesis throughout the harvest. The very warm and dry vintage of 2007, which resulted in terrific, ripe and opulent wines, created drought stress issues in some vineyards; because most vintages have adequate moisture, irrigation is not very common in Finger Lakes vineyards.

At this point in the harvest, some sparkling wine grapes and early season table wine varieties have been harvested, but most Chardonnay is still a few days away, and Riesling is apt to be more than a month away. So far, grape chemistry is on track, fruit composition and condition are good, and flavors are progressing nicely. So it comes down to the weather for the next five weeks. We had some great ripening weather before Ike passed us by with just some clouds and drizzle, and now we are enjoying a beautiful Midwestern high that promises to deliver just perfect harvest weather for the forecastable future. Life is good in this winemaker's Finger Lakes.

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