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What’s Happening on the Vineyards?

Fall is my favorite season. I love the beauty of the deep purples and golds of late summer that drift into warm golds and reds of autumn.

This time of year, most vineyards are starting their first harvest of green and gold grapes, which make delicious white wines. In fact, our neighbor in Bellevue, Verhoff Vineyards, just harvested Traminette and Cayuga (mostly in the rain!), and the New York Finger Lakes region is starting to harvest grapes for Riesling.

Here at Gideon Owen, our vineyards are only in their third year. We’ve been picking the clusters off the vines to ensure the plant exerts its energy into making strong, healthy roots and not just fruit. Quin and I hope by this time next year we’ll be celebrating our first harvest.

Soon, we’ll be "crushing" the Chardonel and Cab Franc grapes from Verhoff Vineyards, creating our first wine from crush to bottle this year.

We’ve always been transparent about buying already fermented “juice” from Debonne Winery in Geneva on the Lake until our grapes mature and can be harvested. We then bring the fermented juice back to Gideon Owen to age, blend, keg, and bottle. Quin and I buy juices that are the same varietals of grapes that we have planted on the vineyards in hopes of making the transition to our production seamless. We’re very grateful to Debonne Winery for their mentoring and advice.

The Farm

The farm has been a different story this year. The peaches are huge due to all the rain and delicious because of all the hot weather. But these same factors wreaked havoc on our heirloom tomato plants, which we’ve never had a problem growing. Quin and I hope to see a crop soon. The weeds, however, seem to be having the best season!

Weather is such a factor for farmers – we’re really at its mercy year to year. We see on the news what extreme weather can do to row crops like corn and soybeans. When we have a rainy year, the peaches are typically large but don’t have much taste. Too much rain can make the cherries grow too fast for their skins and split, making them unsellable.

This year, the peaches were very susceptible to mold and rot due to the rain, and the young apples got sunburned in the spring’s 90-degree days.

These same weather extremes are what make a wine’s vintage important. A very dry season will usually make a high-quality wine. The sun concentrates the sugars. A rainy year will make an average wine. The grapes can be more diseased and diluted. The terrior of where the wine is grown, and the weather of that specific year determine the taste of that vintage.

Farming and winemaking will always be at the mercy of Mother Nature.

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