Sunday, October 19, 2008

The view from NY: Biz booming this fall

Saw these two items in the weekly New York e-letter and thought I'd share them. From what I've seen, business indeed does seem to be good at most wineries despite the economy, although we'll see over the next couple of weeks if we can't get more concrete evidence of that.

2008 GRAPE HARVEST is moving right along, with another week of cooperative weather ripening the grapes so vineyard crews and winemakers can get them into presses, tanks and barrels. Cornell Cooperative Extension’s weekly “Veraison to Harvest” e-letter reported basically good news from all regions of the state in terms of both quantity and quality. Cash registers also are humming along, according to several winery owners I spoke with this week, with Columbus Day weekend bringing record visitors and sales to some despite (or maybe because of) the country’s dreary financial climate. The harvest should be pretty much over by Halloween except on Long Island where some of the late-ripening red varieties are left hanging into November.

FRESH TABLE GRAPES are a very small and fleeting but delightful part of our industry, and the Rochester Democrat & Chronicle did a great job reminding people of the tasteful treats all around them this time of year. As with wine grapes, New York grows a wide variety of table grapes—some seeded like Concord, Catawba and Niagara and others seedless like Himrod, Marquis and Vanessa which were developed by Cornell University scientist Bruce Reisch. They are truly nature’s candy: sweet and tempting, but with natural sugar and other substances that are good for you. Since supply is limited, many of the grapes are available only at U-pick farms and roadside farmers’ markets, but they’re definitely worth seeking out. The same edition of the paper had a great article about the many wineries which will soon host winemakers’ dinners to celebrate the end of the harvest.