September is the month that local vineyards of the Upper Hudson Valley Wine Trail harvest their grape crops. Grapes go right from the vineyard into the crusher for processing. Harvest days are generally festive events for the local wineries. Friends and family members volunteer to pick grapes in the vineyards in the morning and a celebratory harvest meal follows when the day’s harvest is complete.
In Washington County, Victory View Vineyard, Natural Selection Farm Winery, Amorici Vineyard and Oliva Vineyards begin harvesting their northern, hardy grapes this month.
Victory View Vineyard will be harvesting five varieties of grapes from three acres this year. “We expect to harvest between 10 and 15 tons of grapes this month,” said Gerry Barnhart, co-owner and winemaker. “Fruit quality of our Marquette, Maréchal Foch, La Crescent, LaCrosse and Melody is excellent again this year in spite of the rainy late Spring and early Summer, and we are looking forward to a bountiful harvest to produce our farm-bottled wines.”
Joe Messina, winemaker and owner of Amorici Vineyards harvested three varietals, Kay Gray, Amorella and Seyval Blanc and plans to harvest Marquette on September 6 and his Frontenac on September 15. “I expect a good crop off my 3-acre vineyard, though the birds have already ‘harvested’ some of my grapes for me.”
At Oliva Vineyards, Tony Oliva has three acres of vines and expects to harvest about an acre of Frontenac on the third weekend in September. He invites family and friends to join in the harvest.
Ken Denberg, Natural Selection Farm Winery’s owner and winemaker, said “I’ll be doing readings this first weekend in September and harvest a little over 2 acres of grapes the third weekend in September.”
In Saratoga County, Ledge Rock Hill Winery has an onsite harvest coming up this month as well. Gary Akrop, owner and award-winning winemaker at Ledge Rock Hill Winery in Corinth, plans to harvest his half acre of Mountain Marquette in late September.
Amorici Cooking w WineVineyards that rely upon friends and family for help in getting the grape crop in on time offer a complementary feast after the day’s harvest. Vineyard owners treat grape pickers to elaborate mid-day meals filled with savory fall dishes and local wines. Susan Quillio from Spoonful Catering, known for her use of locally sourced foods, will cater the harvest feast at Victory View Vineyard in Easton. In exchange for a two day commitment, Chef and vineyard owner, Joe Messina of Amorici Vineyard likes to offer volunteers “the right amount of culinary incentives” to ensure help for the harvest. His ‘incentives’ include foods prepared with organic and sustainable ingredients and his wine.
Successful local harvests promise that unique and flavorful wine will be served up in local wineries next year when the 2013 vintage is released.