Photo courtesy of Tom Higgins, Heart & Hands Wine Company

By Evan Dawson, Managing Editor

Two weeks ahead of the regular schedule,and four weeks ahead of last year.

Think winemaking doesn't change year-to-year? Growers in the Finger Lakes almost never see veraison in July, and yet some berries were already turning when August arrived. This shot was taken in one of the cooler (but meticulously maintained) vineyards in the region: Hobbit Hollow vineyard on Skaneateles Lake.

The fruit from this vineyard goes to some of the strongest producers in the region, including Ravines Wine Cellars and Heart & Hands Wine Company. Tom Higgins of Heart & Hands says this vineyard didn't reach this point of development until the very end of August in 2009.

This is the time of year when every day's weather plays an increasingly larger role in the story, but so far the season has almost been a dream. Producers will have the option of picking at varying stages of ripeness, assuming some wickedly cold weather doesn't muddle the remainder of the growing term.