CANANDAIGUA, NY — New York’s 2010 grape harvest is over, with grape-growers and winemakers not just happy about that, but also about the superb quality of the fruit.
“It ain’t over till it’s over,” the eminently quotable Yankees catcher and manager Yogi Berra said, which is as true for the annual grape harvest as it is for baseball games. hat’s why, even though virtually the entire year had brought near perfect weather going into September, growers and winemakers still held their collective breath while watching the fall weather forecasts.
Hurricane Earl caused some heart palpitations on Long Island, but ended up veering east and just dumping some much needed gentle rain on the vineyards. That was followed by moderate winds that helped prevent disease. And, a subsequent rainstorm turned west of Long Island’s wine country. Some fairly heavy mid-harvest rains in the Finger Lakes created concern, but that, fortunately, turned out to be unfounded. Throughout the state, most people were saying 2010 was the best year they can remember.
In the final edition of the “Veraison to Harvest” e-newsletter published on Friday, Cornell University Enology Extension Associate Chris Gerling provided a great summary of the 2010 harvest based on comments from winemakers in different regions as well as lots of statistics. It came down to three common points:
(1) Although different regions had different weather paths, the overall fruit quality is excellent.
(2) Despite rain early, late and in between, most grapes were kept remarkably clean as long as humanly possible.
(3) It has been an intense period, with many different varieties ripening at once.
Asked to compare 2010 to a recent year, Bedell Cellars winemaker Rich Olsen Harbich, a veteran of Long Island, said, “I’m not sure there is a comparable year. I don’t see it comparing to anything else.”
The Growing Degree Days (GDD) used to measure heat units affecting ripening were far ahead of last year, with more GDDs in the Finger Lakes by the end of August than the end of October last year. On Long Island, the tally on August 31 was about the same as Napa and Sonoma, CA, combined. This year the East Coast and West Coast flipped harvest timetables, with our friends on the left coast still harvesting now. In some cases, they have been hurt by a killing frost which virtually never occurs there.
It’s all a reminder that wine is a farm product, and nature is in charge. We are very fortunate in New York to have had such a stellar year, and the wines released starting next spring should reflect that.
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