By Evan Dawson, Managing Editor

One day of rain can't ruin a year-long growing party, right? 

Despite the stellar conditions that have run from March to the fall, last Thursday's rains (up to four inches in parts of the Finger Lakes) threatened to soak the party. But at White Springs Winery on Seneca Lake, winemaker Derek Wilber explained why the rain is not likely to be enough to cause real trouble.

"The real nightmare scenario is heavy rain followed by real warm temperatures," Wilber said at the end of a long harvest day in the winery. "Tropical storms can be damaging, because they dump a lot of water and then it gets very steamy." He explained that the grapes can take on the moisture and various problems can follow, including rot and dilution. 

But last Thursday's rains were followed by cool, crisp weather. "It was just about ideal, given the rain," Wilber said. "Cool nights, dry days, not much higher than 60 degrees." 

It also helps that this growing season has seen long stretches of dry weather. And many wineries have already brought in more than half of their grapes for the 2010 vintage.

Wilber, a veritable encyclopedia of winemaking, says the difference between 2009 and 2010 has been severe — but not the most severe he has seen in the Finger Lakes. "We saw huge swings from '87 to '88, from '92 to '93, and even from 2000 to 2001." 

So which variety stands out as the prize of the vintage? It's too early to tell, but it's never too early for Wilber to talk about his beloved sauvignon blanc, which he views as an underrated performer.

In another month he can talk about the full lineup, but he has learned never to get too far ahead during harvest.