Agribusiness

Abundant grape harvest expected

ALBANY — New York’s wine and grape industry is expected to have a bountiful harvest in 2013, which will help the fast-growing industry maintain its standing as a national leader in producing high quality-wines. Gov. Andrew Cuomo is encouraging New Yorkers to help these growers by purchasing and tasting New York wines this upcoming holiday season.

“The successful harvest for New York’s grape growers is giving our state’s wine industry a boost in production at exactly the right time,” Cuomo said. “Over the last several months, New Yorkers and wine enthusiasts around the world have been learning and enjoying the incredible wines our state has to offer. As we continue efforts to improve the business climate for the wine industry, I congratulate our grape growers and wine producers on a prosperous year in 2013. As the holiday season approaches, I encourage those looking to find a great gift to support New York’s growers and purchase a locally produced wine.”

While figures from this year’s harvest are not yet available, reports from all sections of the state have been extremely positive with many grape growers reporting an abundant harvest of superb fruit. Long Island had the best harvest in terms of warm, dry weather throughout the fall. While the rest of the state had more variable weather, it still ended up with a great quality harvest.

New York grapes, particularly varieties from Western New York, are also used in a number of other products including various juices and jellies. New York ranks third nationally in wine and grape production with the crop value estimated at $52.3 million in 2012.

Anyone interested may visit the Taste NY website to view a video about this year’s harvest and some of the reforms spearheaded by Cuomo to grow New York’s wine industry.

Jim Trezise, president of the New York Wine and Grape Foundation, said the programs have been helpful.

“In this business, you have to have a good climate to grow good grapes to make good wine, and people often forget that you have to have a good business climate to grow an industry,” he said. “For too many years, our business climate was overcast and sometimes even stormy, but now the sun is out.”

Trent Preszler, Ph.D., CEO of Bedell Cellars on the North Fork of Long Island, said he is enthusiastic about this year’s harvest.

“The weather was ideal during the critical ripening period, making conditions nearly perfect for producing world-class wines,” he said. “The harvest is complete now and we’re very excited about what we’ve tasted so far. There is a lot of optimism all around about the potential quality of the wines that will be produced from the 2013 vintage.”

Phil Randazzo, owner of Coyote Moon Vineyards in Jefferson County, said his grapes ripened near mid-October, but when they did the quality was excellent as was the quantity.

“We have processed 143 tons of grapes this year, which is huge for the North Country,” he said. “If this year tells us one thing it is this: the North Country is turning into a very real wine region here in New York State. We are very excited about this year’s harvest.”

Pete Saltonstall, co-owner of King Ferry Winery in Cayuga County, agreed that this was an interesting year for the harvest.

“We had a lot of rain during the summer that initially worried us,” he said. “However, a few weeks before harvest we had a perfect run of beautiful weather. This helped develop the character of our grapes, which in turn resulted in fruit with tremendous varietal character. This will pass on directly to the quality of our wines and we’re couldn’t be more excited about the offerings that will come from this vintage.”

In Niagara County, Melinda Vizcarra, co-owner of Becker Farms and Vizcarra Vineyards, said they had a great yield on grapes this year, which in turn will help them produce a lot of nice wines.

“Every year is different, but all in all we’re very happy with the quality of our crop and we think consumers will be very pleased as well,” she said.

In October 2012, Cuomo launched the first-ever Beer, Wine and Spirits Summit where he listened to concerns brought forth by members of the industry and announced a series of measures to cut through red tape and improve the business climate for the state’s beverage producers. A regional summit was held by administration officials in Hyde Park just last week where the industry praised the progress that has been made over the past year.

At the original summit, Cuomo promised an aggressive marketing campaign to promote the industry. In early 2013, he launched Taste NY, which is helping the wine, beer and spirits industry, as well as other agribusinesses, gain national exposure through a range of promotional efforts including Taste NY tents at important events, Taste NY stores in transportation hubs and a dedicated website, www.taste.ny.gov.

As part of the Taste NY campaign, in August Cuomo took part in his first-ever Governor’s Cup Wine Tour and Competition awards ceremony in the Finger Lakes region. There, he launched a new television ad campaign to promote New York State’s award-winning wines and further grow the Taste NY experience.

In September 2013, Cuomo signed legislation allowing roadside farmers’ markets to sell wine manufactured and produced by up to two licensed farm wineries, special wineries or micro-wineries located within 20 miles of the roadside farmers’ markets.

Also in September 2013, the governor signed laws establishing the Adirondack Coast Wine Trail in the North Country and expanding the Shawangunk East Wine Trail in the Hudson Valley. In addition, the Niagara Escarpment Wine Trail will be renamed the Niagara Wine Trail Ridge and expand while the Niagara Wine Trail will be renamed the Niagara Wine Trail Lake and will also expand. Under additional legislation, the Chautauqua Wine Trail will be renamed the Lake Erie Wine Country Trail. There are currently 16 wine trails designated by state law.

Acting State Agriculture Commissioner James Bays congratulated all the regions of New York State on a great grape harvest this year.

“New York’s wines are gaining a tremendous reputation that will only be strengthened by the quality of this year’s crop,” he said. “Through innovative initiatives such as the Taste NY program and business-friendly policies that are helping our wine industry grow, we continue to open new markets and expose more people to New York’s world class wineries.”

Dean Norton, president of New York Farm Bureau, agreed.

“New York’s grape growers have had a very productive year, which also bodes well for our wineries and juice makers who produce high-quality products,” he said. “The spin-off effect of these farm-based businesses means greater tourism opportunities and jobs throughout New York State.”

To find a winery, those interested may visit the Open New York website at: https://data.ny.gov/Economic-Development/Wineries-Breweries-and-Distilleries-Map/c2hv-vmqn.

Published: