Well, that’s pretty much it! Harvest 2016, for the Finger Lakes wine area of upstate NY, is in the bag. Winemakers are busy in the cellars, but the backbreaking labor of bringing in the fruit is over.
The drought of summer 2016, along with hot late summer temperatures, created a harvest situation different than in years past. Usually, whites ripen first, and there is a window of staggered time to pick the grapes. This year, almost every variety was ready to pick at once, creating a push for helping hands–as well as a more aggressive grape seller’s market. Winemakers that buy grapes had to make fast decisions or be priced out to the next highest bidder. ‘Time crunch’ was the big term of this year’s harvest.
I had the opportunity once again to get my hands dirty and hand pick for a few different, local, smaller FLX grape growers. First-hand knowledge of grapes and fields make for a more educated taster and pourer of wines, so I take the chance where and when I can.
I exclusively hand picked on Seneca Lake this year-Riesling, Gewurtztraminer, Syrah, and Cabernet Franc. As always, I learned so much from the people I worked with, the experience alone was worth the labor put in. Long hours, little pay (mostly), but you really get out of it what you put into it, and the access you get to the winemakers will absolutely change how you think about making (and drinking!) wine.
Look for 2016 vintage FLX reds as well to be exceptional–the extensive drought and heat really created an intense, smaller crop of beautiful fruit. I’ll be back in NY from California next year to try some of the Rieslings, Cabernet Francs, and Gewurtztraminers, that I helped pick, for sure…