Dry weather, drought a mixed bag for vineyards
Grape harvests are underway at vineyards in the Northeast where unusually dry warm weather this summer was ideal for growing grapes.
But in parts of New York and southern New England, where drought struck, some growers are seeing decreasing yields.
New York, the country’s third largest wine producer, was hit hard by drought in the Finger Lakes wine region.
Gene Pierce, owner of Glenora Wine Cellars on Seneca Lake, said his and other vineyards are seeing smaller crop yields, ranging from a 10 percent decline to as much as 30 to 40 percent.
On the other hand, dry weather can bring a more intensely flavored wine.
“Common thinking says drier years yield a more fruit-intense flavor,” Pierce said.
But it’s too early to tell how the dry weather will affect the quality of the crop, he said.
Dry conditions also tend to mean fewer crop diseases than a humid summer, said Tim Martinson, senior associate for viticulture at Cornell University’s Agricultural Experiment Station in Geneva.
He predicted grape harvests will likely be smaller for some growers. But “What’s there is going to be really good stuff,” Martinson said.
In California, known for its wineries, grapes have adapted to cyclical drought, according to the Wine Institute in San Francisco. With last winter’s rains amid a 5-year-old drought, growers expect the 2016 crop will have normal yields, the institute says.
Bill Leas holds grapes harvested at Fresh Tracks Farm Vineyard & Winery in Berlin, Vt. The dry summer weather was ideal for growing grapes in some spots in the Northeast, but the drought in southern New England and parts of New York may have decreased the crop.