Finger Lakes Wineries Hit Hard by Polar Vortex

May 28, 2014 at 12:20 pm

New York Now‘s Innovation Trail reporter Jenna Flanagan takes us to the Finger Lakes region, where many wineries suffered extensive damage from last winter’s polar vortex.

The vineyards around Seneca and Cayuga Lake might not look like disaster areas, but the Federal Government recently declared the 19 counties of the Finger Lakes to be just that. Several vineyard owners lost as much as 50 to 100 percent of their crop due to the frost from the last winter, however a lot of them feel as though with some warm weather and a little bit of help, they can still get through.

John Martini is owner or chief-bill-payer as he puts it, for Anthony Road Winery.  A tasting room and vineyard on the west bank of Seneca Lake. Anthony Road encompasses 75 acres of grapes and they produce about 20-thousand cases of wine annually.  This year the polar vortex, a large scale cyclone of arctic air that moved down over North America breaking record low temperatures may have cost Martini as much as 50-percent of his crop, depending on the grape.

There are 3 types of grapes grown in the Finger Lakes. The Natives, like concords and Niagara’s, the French American Hybrids like Seyval Blanc and De Chaunac, and the Vinifera or European grapes like the popular Cabernet Sauvignon, Riesling and Merlot.

Martini’s been farming for over 40 years and has dealt with previous cold snaps like the winter of 2004 but this year was different. European grapes produce some of his most popular wines but they don’t always like upstate New York weather and this year they hated it with buds damaged or dying on a massive scale. So Martini is skipping the usual spring trimming to allow the buds that did survive winter to grow.

Read the full story here.