Long Island Wine Council’s 2013 Harvest Report: Delicious Perfection

We’ve only started to write about the 2013 vintage here on Long Island. As I wrote in our Winter 2014 issue, an exceptionally dry fall boosted yields and gave winegrowers a lot of options about when to pick and what to do with the exceptionally ripe grapes. But as winemaking sidekick Clark Smith (who just led a round table discussion by winemakers that I was happy to be able to attend on Dec. 16) puts it “All talk about wine you’re not drinking is just gossip.” So be sure to try the wines and make up your own mind. The Paumanok 2013 Chenin Blanc and the Macari 2013 Early Wine are already out.

In the interest of documenting Long Island Wine Country, below is the press release sent by the Long Island Wine Council re 2013:

Winegrowers on Long Island are celebrating more than the region’s 40th anniversary this year.  After a relatively cool and wet start to the growing season, the weather turned warm and dry throughout the summer and into the early autumn, enabling grapes to be picked at optimal ripeness.  As a result, the vintage is expected to be one of the best ever.

“During harvest, the sun stayed out and the rain stayed away. Every day was joyful as we unloaded basket after basket of beautifully ripe grapes and celebrated their delicious perfection,” said Richard Olsen-Harbich, winemaker at Bedell Cellars, “Each day was better than the next–not a cloud in the sky, warm temperatures and not a drop of rain in sight. The results were dramatic.”

After a dry May and a relatively wet June, July and August were dry and warm. According to Richard Pisacano, owner of Roanoke Vineyards and Wölffer Estate vineyard manager, “July and August yielded almost perfect conditions.” He continued, “I believe that no great vintage is possible on Long Island without a great August.”

Ripening progressed rapidly in September. According to Cornell University Cooperative Extension’s researchers, “Long Island was the big story” throughout the state, as the region’s grape varietals surpassed 2012 numbers in September. As of September 20, harvest was in full swing, with blocks of chardonnay and sauvignon blanc picked. These varietals were clean and flavorful fruit in sunny, dry weather. The 2013 vintage was “one that vineyard managers live for,” stated Alice Wise and Libby Tarleton of Cornell University Cooperative Extension.

Sunny and dry were descriptors for the remainder of the harvest season, and fruit quality from 2013 is reminiscent of 2007 and 2010, both outstanding vintages. Susan Hearn, co-owner of Suhru Wines reported that “quality was excellent across the board,” and Russell Hearn, winemaker at both Suhru and T’jara, raved that they “experienced spectacular quality of all our varietals in the vineyard.”  Hal Ginsburg, owner of Clovis Point, concurred, noting that they brought in “really beautiful fruit for our three main varietals: cabernet franc,merlot and chardonnay, combined with better than average yields. The great weather brought us the best vintage since 2007.”

For some growers and winemakers, the harvest is the best they have ever experienced. One of the region’s newer vintners, Anthony Sannino, owner of Sannino Bella Vita Vineyards, said “All of the grapes we have grown this season have given us the highest in absolute quality including visual and health on the vine, a perfect natural balance of flavors complemented by the highest sugars we have ever achieved since we first started growing in 2006.” Industry veteran Roman Roth, winemaker and partner at Wölffer Estate, provided even more important historical context, calling 2013 “The best vintage he has ever seen in his career, which began in 1982.”