The season is slowly winding down and the preparations for the winter are under way. The left most picture is the first frost of the season, which was cold enough to freeze the leaves and close out this growing season. The second picture is the vineyard on the following day. As I type this blog, it is 20 degrees outside and there is an inch of snow on the ground.
This season's harvest in the Finger Lakes was one for the record books with vineyards producing more grapes than they have in quite some time. The weather last summer during the bud forming stage was good and the winter was mild so the buds lived to produce clusters of fruit. The season started off with more than average rain and then September was dry and warm to help the ripening once again. For the last few years good weather in September has helped push the grapes to ripeness.
Let’s hope next season isn't just helpful in September but helpful all summer long.
The left picture is of Chardonnay grapes that are ready to head to the press pad for the first step in the wine making process. In the field we use a hopper and conveyor to load the grapes from the 30# “lugs” into the approximately 1600# macro bins. We hand pick our grapes so the pickers leave the lugs under the trellis and we come through and empty them into the hopper that connects to the conveyor which drops the grapes into the macro bin while the tractor is moving, which helps speed up the process.
Hand harvesting is a long process and can take an experienced picker up to 3 hours to complete a full row, depending on crop load. So far this season we have harvested the Pinot Gris, Sauv Blanc, Pinot Noir and Chardonnay with the Lemberger being picked this week.
Our earliest varieties are starting to change color and soften, signaling the change from cell division to cell expansion. This change starts the increase in sugar and the decrease in acid along with the return to rapid berry development. The photo to the left is Pinot Noir with full eastern fruit exposure to help dry the morning dew and expose the fruit to UV rays - which helps promote desirable wine flavors.
So far this season we have received more rain than we did in the entire growing season last year.
The picture to the right was taken 10 minutes after we received between 2 and 3 inches of rain in the span of less than half an hour.
In July alone, we received approximately 6 inches of rain; doubling our normal average for the month. This excessive rain has resulted in a major battle to keep the shoots in the wires and to keep them from overlapping - which creates stale air pockets with low UV exposure. Keeping the fruit exposed to the sun has been a challenge as well. The laterals seem to grow as soon as we pull the leaves, which results in blocking the fruit from the sun. We used a mechanical leaf puller early in the season and have had to do another pass through the vineyard by hand to clear out what the machine missed and what grew back. Luckily, the month of August has not been as wet as the beginning of the growing season, so we're keeping our fingers crossed that the trend continues to help keep the disease pressure down and fruit ripening process up.
White Birch Vineyards was pleased to host local restaurant, liquor store and bar owners and managers this past Thursday at our Annual Wholesale Evening.
In attendance to mingle with the attendees and disuss the White Birch portfolio and vineyard were the the Falcone Family - the owners, Morten Hallgren - our winemaker and Chris Fluri - our vineyard manager. It was a wonderful evening complete with delicious food artfully prepared by our Culinary Manager Adinah Dutton and delightful music by our own Tasting Room Associate Ben Shearer and his musical counterpart Peter Hawley. Our tasting room staff provided the complete tasting experience for each guest while our owners, vineyard manager and wine maker answered guest questions on our wines, our vineyard and our portfolio.
Thank you to every business that joined us for our Wholesale Evening!