Kris Kane from 21 Brix Winery out in Lake Erie wine country sent this report late last week:
“At 21 Brix Winery and Olde Chautaqua Farms (the Vineyard), we just finished picking our last of the fresh grapes about two hours ago. A happy dance was done by all. Not sure if its because the processing is all done or that we get to put our equipment away before the snow comes!! At this point I am not sure what to do with all these cold weather gloves I ordered.
Anyways, this is a far different dance then was seen in mid-August by other farmers in our area. Fortunately on our farm with 17 different varieties and just shy of 300 acres we have drip irrigation set up on the most sensitive areas, so we did not join in on the rain dance. I have often questioned why we have drip irrigation set up but this year we actually utilized this feature. It was the first time it was used in several years apart from the watering of new plantings.
Early, hot and heavy! Our vintage started out on a rampant pace with a lot of our early whites needing to be picked quickly. The acidity was just racing out of the varieties. We were able to put all of our refrigeration to the test early on as well, it was blazing hot and even with early morning picking we were still bringing fruit in with temps in the mid to high 70’s. (yikes!)
All that being said we danced around rain showers here and only utilized our rain gear for processing on three occasions. Again, unheard of!
Since it was so dry we were able to dictate when we wanted to pick as opposed to being told by the weather man when we could pick. A lot of clean dry fruit with great flavor was able to come in when we wanted it. In early tastings, we may have to do some further acidity adjustments for balancing purposes. This is a nice change of pace for us. As we like to say around here if you can make wine on the east coast you can make wine anywhere. A winemaker’s toolbox is always required to be full of knowledge and material because you can never be to sure what you are going to need use in order to manage years like the cool, wet 2009 vintage or the darn near perfect 2016 vintage.
When all was said and done we processed 260 tons of fruit with 75% of it coming from our farm. Quality was fantastic and our tanks are filled to the brims. From early tastings some highlights so far are our Chardonnays (all of them from sparkling base to the barrel fermented to the stainless), Sauvignon Blanc, Gruner Veltliner, and Blaufrankisch and Cabs on our reds.
We will be certainly celebrating with a shot of a New York Craft distilled spirit, chased by a New York Craft Beer.. Don’t worry there was plenty of cider pulled from the tap during the few hours we weren’t working the past several months.
Keep an eye out for the 2016 vintage in the upcoming years. One to remember for sure!”