By Evan Dawson, Finger Lakes Editor

Photo courtesy Tricia Barry

316140_10150297799641245_677491244_8393385_2102882417_nPinot noir is always one of the first off the vine, as it ripens early in the season. Many Finger Lakes wineries picked their pinot during a long stretch of sunshine that lasted from the middle of last week until this past Tuesday. Only a small percentage of vineyards still have pinot hanging, and most will wait until another forecasted run of warmth and sun that could last for much of the next week.

It has been a struggle.

Disease pressure has soared this year, thanks to wildly inconsistent weather (and that's being kind). Pinot has thin skins and tight clusters, so it's more prone to rot. Some vineyards report 20% or more of the fruit being lost; others have seen only a tiny fraction of damage.

Already, more wineries are hand-sorting the picked clusters than ever before. And that is a development that can only help the region.

At Keuka Lake Vineyards, winemaker Ian Barry had some help from his son, Declan. Both Barrys were happy with the berries they were seeing.

"It was beautiful, spotless fruit," the winemaker said. He reported totals of 20.8 brix, 8.8 TA and a pH of 3.38. "Those are really good numbers for a challenging year, and more importantly, the flavors are fully ripe," Barry said.

This vintage, Barry is doing a partial whole-cluster fermentation for the pinot, using neutral barrels that are stood upright with the heads removed.