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  • 2022 Winemaker's Harvest Report

     Scroll down to see earlier reports


    2022 Winemaker's Growing Season Notes and Observations 


    Report 4 - September 27, 2022   Harvest Assessment #2


    My, what a change a week can make. The fall equinox occurred last week, and Mother Nature seemed to take it very seriously, changing from very pleasant, late summer weather patterns that are typical this time of year to rainy and cold conditions more typical of late October. BRRRH! 


    Over 3” of rain fell in the last couple of days, and the highs have been in the low 50sOf course, this has ramifications for grape ripening and harvest. Ongoing rain and humidity increase disease pressure with Botrytis and mildews (among other things) flourishing and vines ceasing almost all ripening activities. Harvest timing is increasingly dictated not by optimum ripeness, but by fruit condition—picking before the fruit deteriorates unacceptably—and breaks in the rain. Growers are doing what they can to control disease—direct application of hydrogen peroxide is working wonders to halt the growth of these diseases, but it is easily washed off by the next rain. Vines also take up water when it’s plentiful (and it is very plentiful right now) and translocate it to the berries, diluting juice and, in the worst case, swelling and splitting open the berries.


    All is not lost, though. With the relative dryness and low incidence of disease we had coming into harvest, there is some resiliency in the fruit and vines. Also, the low temperatures are helping slow the growth of disease organisms, so that efforts to control them by the growers are more effective. We’re kind of in a big refrigerator right now.


    The high points: Pinot Noir and Grüner Veltliner were harvested at the end of last week before the weather change, and the quality of both was very high.  Chancellor came in this morning, and it appears to have come through this wet period quite nicely. Chardonnay and Pinot Gris are scheduled for later this week, after the weatherman says the rain will stop. Both of these varieties were looking very good last week, but Pinot Gris, with its thin skin and tight cluster, is at risk.


    Fingers crossed for improvement in weather conditions and keeping this year’s vintage quality on track.


    Bob Green
    PIWC Executive Winemaker



    Report 3 - September 19, 2022   Harvest Assessment #1


    This time of the harvest season is interesting in that there is sometimes a lull in the activity. Harvest is complete for the early native varieties Fredonia, Niagara and Diamond, early hybrids Aurore and Seyval Blanc, and early red Dornfelder.   Pinot Grigio, Pinot Noir, and Chardonnay are still hanging on the vine, not yet at the peak of ripeness. The press pad crew has gotten into the swing of harvest, the bugs have been worked out of the machinery, early fermentations are underway, and we start to settle into the rhythm of this year’s harvest.


    It also gives us a glimpse into what we can expect, in very general sort of way, from this year’s crop. Quantity of fruit on more tender varieties seems to be lower than expected with smaller berries and fewer clusters per vine—February gave us a brief overnight dip into subzero temperatures and not all of the vines handled it very well; hardier varieties were not affected by this cold snap, and crop size on these is ample. The dryness of the summer contributed to the small berry size, but the rains that came later in the growing season kept the vines in good health with enough moisture to keep the ripening process going as needed. Some recent humid weather and rain has increased the risk and incidence of disease, but not to the panic point. We’re just watching very carefully, ready to move quickly if necessary. If conditions keep going in this way and humid, rainy weather abates, we could see wines with very good quality, but perhaps not as plentiful as in some years.


    As mentioned, up next for harvest are the white varieties Chardonnay, Pinot Grigio, Cayuga and Vignoles, and Pinot Noir and Chancellor for the reds. We’re seeing typical fall weather now, with warm sunny days and cool nights. Rain comes and goes, hopefully not sticking around long when it does show up. The goal now is to keep the canopy as healthy as possible to take advantage of every minute of daylight with full-on photosynthesis—the driver of the ripening process.


    Bob Green
    PIWC Executive Winemaker



    Report 2 - September 1, 2022   Pre-Harvest Assessment #2


    It’s now September, the feel of the air has changed, the sun is rising later, and Harvest 2022 is no longer something that we are planning for in the future—it’s right around the corner. Vineyard sampling of the early varieties is now being done frequently, conversations with growers are more frequent, and the first day of processing will be decided by the end of today. It’s becoming apparent that we might be earlier than normal by a week or so for some varieties. By next report, we will be in the thick of it with Niagara and Diamond varieties. Let the Harvest begin!


    Since the last report, we have had a bit more rain, so any concerns of drought stress are now behind us. (This may not be the case for other winegrowing regions of Pennsylvania, though, where a drought watch has been issued that encompasses 36 counties in the northern and eastern part of the state.) The long-term forecast is for stretches of dry sunny days, temperatures in the mid-70s, and a chance of rain every so often. Given the favorable growing conditions so far in the season, this weather pattern, if it continues, could result in some very high-quality grapes. Key factors include healthy leaves which are free from disease and not stressed by lack of water, low humidity which inhibits mold and mildew growth on the leaves and berries, ample sunlight to fuel photosynthesis and berry ripening, and moderately warm temperatures during the day to keep the vines functioning at full speed. Low humidity is all important—keeping disease at bay by allowing the canopy to dry out during the day and after a rain event. Dry air also retains less heat when the sun goes down, giving us cool nights, important for developing color and retaining aromas in the fruit.


    Finally, while we are optimistic about quality, crop size is still a concern for some varieties. In addition to the damage from the cold snap in February that reduced the fruitfulness of some of the vines, berry size may be smaller in vines that are on soils that hold less water between rains. Given that the clusters for this year’s crop were formed last year, the number of berries available this year is already set. A shortage of water means less moisture is translocated to the fruit, resulting in smaller berries. Since they are smaller, they weigh less and have less juice in them, resulting in lower yield of fruit (expressed as tons per acre), and also a lower yield of juice (gallons per ton). From a vineyardist’s perspective, this is not ideal since the crop will bring in less money (grapes are sold by the ton). From a winemaker’s perspective, however, small berry size can be a good thing—less water in the berry can mean more concentration of flavor components in the finished wine, provided the overall crop is large enough.


    Fingers crossed, on we go to Harvest!


    Bob Green
    PIWC Executive Winemaker




    Report 1 - August 23, 2022   Pre-Harvest Assessment #1


    As is usual this time of year, harvest is coming up faster than it seems it should.  All of the varieties are now in (or past) veraison, and the vines are doing their best to produce the perfect fruit that we expect (hope, more properly, but don’t tell the vines that)  from them. Of course, weather is a key factor in all of this, so a synopsis of that is a good place to start.


    First, we have to go back to last year as the vine conditions set during last year’s harvest actually have an effect on this year’s vine development and crop. The 2021 growing season was strange in the region—hot, humid, and with a lot of rain gave us a lot of vegetative growth, a large crop with abnormally large berries, and a lot of disease pressure.   A large crop is stressful on the vine as it puts full effort into ripening the fruit, sometimes to the detriment of overall vine health.  This is exacerbated by weakening caused by vine diseases, especially molds and mildews which damage leaves. Vines that are not fully healthy going into winter will be less resilient to cold temperatures and there can be more winter kill. Vines actually produced clusters for this year’s fruit during last year’s growing season, so damage to buds produced last year reduces the amount of fruit available this year.  We had a cold event in February 2022 that saw temperatures go as low as -9° F.  Vines that were not overcropped in 2021 were more likely survive this with minimal damage and bud loss than vines that had a large crop and/or were heavily diseased.  On the other hand, if the crop size for a vineyard was not excessive last year, and disease was kept in control, the fruitfulness this year has a chance to be quite high. The practical result of all this is that the crop this year varies from vineyard to vineyard, with some vineyards producing a very light crop, and others producing a normal or even slightly larger than normal crop.


    Second, the growing season weather patterns themselves are all important to grape quality. This year has been quite amazing in the Lake Erie region. With so many areas of the country, and even the world, reporting extreme hot and dry weather, we’ve seen days mostly in the mid-80s, occasionally getting into the 90s. The humidity has been low with long rainless periods that has produced some drought stress in certain vineyards and varieties. This is very dependent on the vineyard—its soil and water holding capacity. We had ample rain early in the season so underground water was available to roots throughout the dry stretches. Of course, with dry weather comes other good things—blue skies with plenty of sunlight to fuel photosynthesis, and low disease pressure. Weeds were more manageable between and under the rows, which is important for vineyard health. So, at this point, the potential is there for a very high-quality crop. Where damage was minimal, crop size is also good.


    Finally, a few words about the Spotted Lantern Fly. The adult form can be very destructive to grape vines.  They feed on the sap in the vine, and while this does not kill the vine, their excrement (called “honeydew”, seriously) contains a lot of sugar and promotes the growth of sooty mold which will kill the vine.  So far, we have not seen any of these bugs in our area, even though areas surrounding us have them.  It would be naive to think we will not eventually see them here, but it’s worth the effort to keep them away as long as possible.  Nature has a way of handling infestations like this, and it seems that natural predators are starting to appear in larger numbers in response. We can do our part by stopping at a car wash if travelling from or through an infested area.


    We look forward to seeing how the 2022 vintage wines develop and to sharing them with our customers.  Cheers!


    Bob Green
    PIWC Executive Winemaker




     Local Grapes and Juice Availability


    This year's crop is expected to be of decent size, although some varieties will be in tight supply, and we are optimistic (though we know better than to be hopeful) about the quality as well.  We should have good availability for Local Grapes and Juices.  You may also wish to consider our Fresh CA Grapes and Juices, Fresh Italian Juice, and Fresh Australian Juice options in addition to your locally grown purchases.  We will be accepting pre-orders for grapes by the pound and ton. Pricing will be based on the volume you purchase. You can pre-order your local juice online or by phone and product must be picked up at the winery. Grapes will only be sold via fax or over the phone.


    For all the details, visit our Local Harvest page if you are ready to purchase or just want more information.


    We will have a better estimate of when you can pick up your grapes when it gets closer to harvest. These varieties are also subject to change due to Mother Nature and will be updated as the harvest and pre-sale date nears.  Check our Latest Harvest Info page for most current information on varietal availability and ready dates.


    Visit our Grapes and Juices pages to stay up to date on all developments  Also like us on Facebook and be sure you are on our email list to ensure you don't miss any Fresh Grapes and Juices news.


    Discover all Our Fresh Grapes and Juices for Winemaking           Lake Erie Grapes and Juices Pre-Order