Finger Lakes wineries expecting a blockbuster year

Food and Drink

HAMMONDSPORT, NY (WROC) — Growing a good grape requires very specific climate conditions. A wet spring and a hot, dry stretch to finish the year is good. That is very similar to what happened in 2020 across the Finger Lakes, according to the owner of Heron Hill Winery John Ingle. 

“We’re more than happy,” said Ingle. “We’re excited and enthusiastic about the potential and with the whites you don’t want too much alcohol. You want more acidity because you want that crisp, refreshing action.” 

The vineyard grows about seven types of grapes, all of which are looking great this year. Harvest will last through early October. “The earliest variety that we pick in pinot noir, that’s the heartbreak grape. This year, it was perfection.” 

The cold nights have signaled that it is time to harvest, all while the tasting room continues to evolve with the pandemic. While there have not been as many big wine tours, Valerie Knoblauch, CEO of the Finger Lakes Visitor’s Connection, has helped guide the Finger Lakes tasting rooms to success during COVID-19. 

“The places have made the experience level go up as they’ve been able to pay more attention to the smaller parties,” said Knoblauch. “And with reservations, you know the experience you’re going to get is much more unique.” 

This could be as unique as the quality of grape that will come out of 2020. “I shouldn’t say that, before they’re in the barn, I always kick myself, but it’s hard to hide when you’re excited about something.” 

Heron Hill put its first vineyard in the ground in 1972 and the types of grapes grown have evolved with the climate. “As the decades have passed, the winters have gotten less formidable, and we’ve been able to plant some nice red varieties,” said Ingle. 

For example, cabernet sauvignon does not handle harsh winters well, but climate change has allowed them to survive and even thrive in the Finger Lakes. 

“One of the big secrets of the Finger Lakes wine industry is the reds that we’re making and will continue to learn about making,” Ingle said.

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