If you get the sense that most Finger Lakes growers and winemakers would prefer never to see a vintage similar to this one again, you might also get the idea that Fox Run Vineyards winemaker Peter Bell enjoys the challenge. An answer man who is one of the most respected in the region, Bell is not trying to spin 2009 into 2007 or 2008.
"This is a challenge," he said this weekend as the winery continued its typical frantic harvest pace. "Sugars are a bit low and acids are a bit high. But if you want to talk about flavors, that's something else entirely."
Bell says the riesling, recently picked, came in with a slightly lower brix — 19 — than he's accustomed to seeing at Fox Run. "But we're much more interested in flavors, and this is some of the finest flavor development I've seen in riesling. It should be a special year for it."
Reds are more of an open question. "Whites are going to be very strong. With reds, we don't know yet. But I can easily say that we've seen much more problematic years for reds. This year might require some manipulation, but that's not necessarily unusual."
Indeed, some of the most enjoyable wines come from the best producers in challenging vintages. Bell says that the best vineyards in the Finger Lakes will have a strong advantage this year. "Those who made the right decisions all through the summer and into the fall are going to be in great position."