Harvest time at White Birch Vineyards is the culmination of the growing season where the long hours and months spent tending the grape vines comes down to a compact few weeks of physical labor and stressing about the weather. The Pinot Gris is a tough varietal to pick; the clusters are small like little pine cones and the wasps are in a frenzy of activity around the clusters and picking lugs. However, the sugar in the grapes is enough to keep the wasps occupied so they tend to stay away from the individuals picking, unless you happen to grab a cluster that a wasp is feeding on. The White Birch Vineyards Pinot Gris pick was a fun experience having three generations of the Falcone family, owners of the vineyard, participating in the harvest of the fruit.
By the time this blog makes it to the web the Sauvignon Blanc will also be picked and pressed.
Next to be picked is the Pinot Noir.
After we check the sugar and acid levels we forward the info to our winemaker, the great Morten Hallgren of Ravines Cellars. Morten makes the 50 minute drive from Geneva to our site annually to visually inspect and taste the fruit. This season has been hot and very dry with warm nights dropping the acid levels and raising the sugar levels quite rapidly. Currently the Pinot Gris and Sauvignon Blanc are ripe for the picking. Harvest season is always a fun but challenging time trying to get the fruit off the vines before the rains come. When the grapes are ready to pick there are many other fruit and vegetable crops also ready to harvest making it tough to get as many pickers to help as we would like. Lucky for us we have an experienced group of pickers that is quite a marvel to watch work. We are lined up to pick the Pinot Gris in the next few days. Left photo is Sauvingnon Blanc and right photo is Pinot Gris.
As the grapes ripen they lose acid and gain sugar. Throughout ripening we randomly collect 100 berries of each varietal to be test sugar and acid levels. We press the juice out of the berries and use a refractometer to check the sugar level and a ph probe to check the acids. It is possible to get the fruit to extremely high sugar levels in warmer climate growing regions, however, in cold to cool climates the level of sugar and acids fluctuate with the growing season. The fluctuation from year to year results in a different wine from vintage to vintage. The fruit that is ready to pick first in our vineyard is Sauvignon Blanc and picking should begin in a week to ten days depending on the weather.
White Birch Vineyards welcomes Bre Van Vort, who was born and raised in Santa Barbara in the heart of the Central Coast Wine Country. She brings knowledge and experience from both the West Coast & East Coast wine regions. Working at large scale and boutique wineries in CA and helped build a Brand, Sales & Wine Club in Connecticut.
Getting started in the wine industry first in the Santa Rite Hills AVA at Babcock Winery & Vineyards. Working with Bryan Babcock who was named "James Beard Top Ten Winemakers in the Word" taught her a lot about terroir, revolutionary farming and her passion for wine and sales.
After getting a great grasp of the wine industry she was promoted to Events Coordinator at Koehler Winery & Vineyards in the Santa Ynez Valley AVA. But being married to a winemaker and a passion for travel ended up bringing her and her husband to the East Coast where they "teamed up" at Priam Vineyards in Connecticut. Making a great team they won "Winery of the Year" from NY International and also winning Bronze & Gold Medals for their wines in a handful of international competitions.
Bre is very excited to bring new ideas and events to the White Birch Vineyards Tasting Room and to learn more about Finger Lakes Wines to share all of her knowledge with our wonderful customers.
Check back to see Bre's routine blogs - bringing you new and exciting information on the tasting room, events, and wines of White Birch.
The fruit used for wine is left on the vine until maximum sugar is accumulated to produce wine with a significant amount of alcohol. Birds, wasps, and foxes are just a few creatures attracted to the ripening fruit hanging in the vine. There are a few different ways of repelling the predators that consume the fruits of our labors. The best way is exclusion or a barrier blocking access to the fruit. This is the only guaranteed way to get as much clean fruit to the press as possible. When the fruit gets damaged it opens it up to bacteria and fungus which will make it unusable. Bird netting over the row is the common method of protection against the major source of fruit looting in our area. The picture is of our Pinot Noir protected by the nets. The downfall with netting is the time to install and uninstall. We also use reflective tape, pinwheels, and a speaker system that plays sounds of eagles and falcons along with sounds of common fruit-eating birds in distress.
In the next blog we will look into the measuring of sugar and how well we are keeping the fruit intact on the vine.