The May 29 storms that hit the Finger Lakes brought a variety of rough weather elements, including hail. A few bursts of hail were large and destructive, and while most Finger Lakes wineries were not affected, Cayuga Ridge Winery is now confirming a loss of nearly 100%.
It’s been an emotional time here. We work all season to ensure a healthy harvest, and in a short time it was all destroyed.”
“The hail hit us for about ten minutes on that Tuesday afternoon,” said Mary Jane Kircher, whose family owns and operates Cayuga Ridge. “There were pockets of it reported all over the area. It decimated our crop.”
The video posted here is cell phone video taken by Doug Emblidge, my 13 WHAM News co-anchor who was down on Canandaigua Lake in Bristol when the hail hit. Cornell found that some vineyards on Canandaigua Lake also suffered hail damage, with some vines appearing to be shredded by the storm.
Kircher said that Thirsty Owl Wine Company, located next door, also appeared to have damage, but “Hosmer Winery, less than half a mile away, wasn’t hit. Though many farmers within these pockets suffered crop loss, we are the only two wineries that were affected, as far as I know.”
Cayuga Ridge will likely have no 2012 wines to offer as a result. “It’s been an emotional time here,” Kircher said. “We work all season to ensure a healthy harvest, and in a short time it was all destroyed.”
Some vineyard managers are waiting until the end of June to make a full assessment of damage. Experts at Cornell explain that weather damage, such as frost and hail, can be difficult to measure immediately. In extreme cases such as Cayuga Ridge, the damage is clear. But in other cases, vines that appeared to suffer permanent frost or hail damage can enjoy a kind of revival.
For Kircher and her family, there is plenty of work ahead. As always, she’s working tirelessly at The Copper Oven, Cayuga Ridge’s dining spot that focuses on Kircher’s wood-fired pizzas.
Kircher said her family has never seen anything like this in 20 years. “I guess nature really does have the final say.”