Roanoke Vineyards' Rich Pisacano looking out over the vineyard he manages at Wolffer Estate
By Lenn Thompson, Editor-in-Chief
Frost hit Long Island wine country again late last week, this time impacting just about every grower. I've heard numbers as low as 24 degrees in some vineyards, and it almost goes without saying that temperatures that low fry canopies and bring photosynthesis to a halt. Sugar levels can rise a bit due to dehydration, but without photosynthesis, ripening can't continue.
As such, most local wineries picked all weekend and are finishing up by the end of the week — including Wolffer Estate, where Rich Pisacano is the long-time vineyard manager.
But not Roanoke Vineyards, which Pisacano owns with his wife Soraya. He told me on Monday that he still has "80% of the canopy intact, green."
Pisacano isn't sure why his vineyard has dodged frost so well over the years, telling me "I'm not quite sure why we've avoided some late season frosts since planting here. I do think the slight northerly air movement and our close proximity to the Long Island Sound has something to do with it. Perhaps we've been lucky too. Theoretically, the farm should be a bit colder this time of year leaving the vines more prone to damaging low temperatures."
Piscano only grows reds in his Riverhead vineyard, and he hasn't picked anything yet. Not a single grape. He's hoping to let them ripen as much as possible so flavors can develop along with any increase in sugar.
He's planning to pick the cabernet franc over the next day or two and wants to let the cabernet sauvignon hang into next week if he can.
The only active part of Roanoke Vineyards 2009 harvest has been picking the fruit that will go into their 2009 chardonnay. That fruit comes from from a Mudd Vineyard block that Pisacano planted with Steve Mudd 27 years ago.
"It came in at 22.3 brix with 6.9 g/L TA. Spotless," Pisacano says.
Will his cabernet hang well into next week? It might. There is Ida-related rain expected over the next several days, but temperatures shouldn't dip anywhere near freezing.