The harvest moon over Freedom Run Winery

By Bryan Calandrelli, Niagara Escarpment Editor

Harvest came early for me this year as my lovely wife gave birth to our son Wyatt Calandrelli on September 29, 2009, a full 12 days before he was due. Both he and mom are happy and healthy. As for myself I am exhausted from a long night and day of labor, a long night of celebrating, a seasonal cold and several sleepless nights of diaper harvesting. 

So when I got invited to harvest grapes on Monday, I couldn’t resist dusting off my nippers and running my body into the ground.

Frwpinot09harvest02 Freedom Run Winery was lucky enough to have my shell of a body in the vineyard harvesting pinot noir this past Monday. What in the past has been a frustrating marathon of grape picking became a well-oiled machine with plenty of hands on deck this year. All four acres of pinot noir were harvested and crushed by the end of the day. Yields were extremely low and the overall quality was better than anyone expected this year. 

Hats off to Chip Manning, Vineyard Manager at FRW for his work this year with the heartbreak grape.

A handful of other wineries got crushing this weekend thanks specifically to Don Demaison’s young vineyard on the Niagara Escarpment. 

At the start of harvest this weekend, his grapes were spoken for with Arrowhead Spring Vineyards buying his pinot noir and pinot gris, Leonard Oakes buying his riesling and Eveningside Vineyards purchasing what I believe to be the only substantial planting of sauvignon blanc in the area. All reports I’ve gotten have been positive in regards to fruit quality from his vineyard.

Many wineries are letting their early stuff hang a wee bit longer as they try to make up for this slower-than-normal season. It does appear that chardonnay will be the next vinifera grape pulled and by early next week, there will be another wave of workers heading into local vineyards. 

All eyes remain on weather forecast as growers and winemakers look for the next dry window to bring in more fruit.

While the season is just underway, I already know it’s one I will remember forever. Hopefully the wine I make from some of these grapes will still be drinking well when Wyatt is 21…okay  maybe when he’s 18.