Story by Roy Bradbrook, Editor-in-Chief
Long Island Wine Country.com
These are the weeks when everything comes to a head. No - for once I'm not talking about the Yankees and their seemingly inevitable progression to post season play each year. (It must be really hard to be a Mets fan!) Equally, this does not refer to the upcoming Presidential election finale. No, this is the time when strong men (and women) become advocates of the Weather Channel and assorted on-line weather forecasts. For the wine makers and vineyard managers of Long Island the next few weeks are critical and can be nerve racking and at the end there will be a sense of euphoria or disappointment. At this stage of the game no one knows with any degree of certainty which cards Mother Nature will deal us.
The final reds will not be gathered in until late October or early November if the weather holds up. So far some of the early white varietals have been picked and I talked with some Long Island winemakers and owners to get their reactions to the growing and harvesting season to date.
Roman Roth, Winemaker and General Manager of Wolffer Estates in Sagaponack, one of the three wineries on the South Fork, was very positive, "It has been a challenging year but flavors and fruit are extremely good. It has been a very good year. The only thing that is somewhat lacking has been the sugar development, which the very heavy rainfall in September has not helped. Although we have to wait and see what the next four weeks brings, it already looks like being an above average year. If it stays cool the sugar levels will be lower and we will have a very good year but if the temperatures rise and we reach optimum sugar levels, then it will be an exceptional one. Our sparkling is already picked, some of the rose and some of the whites such as the Pinot Grigio. There is no doubt that the whites already are a "home run". If the suns shines for the next month the reds also will be outstanding."
These sentiments basically were endorsed by Marco Borghese, co-owner of Castello di Borghese Vineyard & Winery in Cutchogue on the North Fork, "Picking started later than usual this year, which is not a bad thing as long as the weather continues to hold. We have noticed that yields are somewhat down this year, which may be the effects of the very hard winter we experienced."
Over at Laurel Lake, Winemaker and General Manager, Claudio Zamorano thought that this summer and fall had brought more rain than expected which had called for extra vigilance in ensuring freedom from mould and fungus but the results of all the hard work are being seen in the excellent quality of the ripening grapes. "We are running about 10 days later than usual which means that the intensity of activity will increase because grapes will need to be picked over a shorter space of time."
So, for the next weeks let us all hope for kind weather and a resultant vintage that will further raise the reputation of the wines.