Dry weather, drought a mixed bag for vine­yards

Daily Freeman (Kingston, NY) - - LOCAL NEWS - By Lisa Rathke

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.

LISA RATHKE — AS­SO­CI­ATED PRESS

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.

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