Editor’s Note: This is the lastest ediction of my biweekly column for The Suffolk Times and Riverhead News-Review.
After writing grape harvest reports for more than a decade, I’ve learned a few things. One, every winemaker is hopeful this time of year. Comments like “This will be an outstanding vintage” and “XYZ will be a great year for Long Island wine” abound.
I’ve also learned that it’s not always true. It’s easy to get caught up in the romanticism of wine and wine country, but this is a business — the business of selling wine. That salesmanship begins before the grapes are even picked.
But after the summer we’ve had, you don’t need to talk to local grape growers or winemakers to know that it’s been a beautiful summer. Warm but rarely punishingly hot. Exceedingly sunny with very few rainy days. With experience, I have to ask fewer questions about how a season’s weather will manifest itself on the vine and eventually in the bottle.
Warm is often better than hot. Dry is better than wet, but too dry brings its own problems. We’ll get to that in a bit, though.
The last thing I’ve learned is best summed up by Charles Massoud, co-owner of Paumanok Vineyards, who is fond of saying, “You cannot take it to the bank until it is in the tank.” Yes, it’s been a potentially great growing season, but it’s still early. A lot can happen, so any optimism is cautious. 2005 was a great vintage, too, until drenching rains in October caused problems for some wineries.
Still, it’s been a good year so far.