Rain Throws Finger Lakes Vintners a Curve

A late-season deluge adds a question mark to the stellar 2010 growing season
Oct 1, 2010

After a stellar growing season, Finger Lakes vintners are dealing today with a late-season rainstorm, the remnants of Tropical Storm Nicole, that swept up the entire east coast, dumping several inches of rain along its path.

Luckily, a warm, dry growing season accelerated ripening for many varieties and many growers had already harvested a range of grapes, from Chardonnay to Pinot and Cabernet Sauvignon, in many different spots. Some red varieties are still hanging though, and Riesling, the region’s lead variety, remains largely unpicked.

With the region separated by long, narrow lakes running north/south, positioning was key as the storm skirted the edge of some areas while hitting others hard.

Johannes Reinhardt, winemaker at Anthony Road Winery, located on the northwest side of Seneca Lake, said his area has seen about 4 inches of rain overnight. Like others, he had harvested some blocks already, but still had Riesling, Cabernet Franc and Vignoles hanging.

“There had been a big jump in flavor development last week before the rain. Things were looking good right before the rain, with a little botrytis on some Riesling, which is fine for the off-dry whites. Now, I’m hoping it’s not going to be too crazy with rot. We won’t be able to tell until we get into the vineyards after this stops.”

Seneca Lake is the region’s central lake, and it has the largest numbers of wineries ringing its shores. On its eastern side, the weather wasn’t as severe and it seemed to be clearing out quickly this morning.

“We didn’t get as much as we thought we would,” said David Whiting, winemaker and owner at Red Newt Cellars, located in the town of Hector. “It ranged between 2 and 4 inches depending on where you were, but over here the waterfalls were not raging this morning as you might have thought.”

Whiting said he has “almost everything” still hanging, after picking just some early table wine varieties as well as Pinot Noir and Pinot Gris.

“The forecast now calls for clear, fall weather next week, so I’ll start to bring in Riesling, Gewürz and Merlot. Everything was hanging pristinely before this since it had been so dry, so I think the vineyards will pretty much shrug this off,” said Whiting.

[You can now follow James Molesworth on Twitter, at http://twitter.com/jmolesworth1.]

Harvest White Wines United States New York Finger Lakes Riesling 2010

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