While most people settle into fall with mugs full of pumpkin spice-flavored coffee, local winemakers are hard at work on their 2016 vintage. If you follow local winemakers on Instagram — and you should — you’ve lately been treated to incredible images (and some videos!) that celebrate the joy of the process.
“For a winemaker, harvest is like show time — the curtain goes up on another vintage and we put our creative skills to work,” says Richard Olsen-Harbich, winemaker at Bedell Cellars. “It’s always exciting when the fruit is first picked and we start putting our stamp on the wines for that year. I bring in extra people to assist with all the tasks that have to be performed so it’s always rewarding to work with them and see a harvest team come together around making our finished product. The hours are long and the work is extremely hard and we have to do it day after day for weeks on end. It builds character — in the wines and in the people that work to make it. It’s the most difficult part of a winemaker’s life — and my favorite time of year.”
About a month ago, in early to mid-September, wineries began to harvest their grapes from the vines. Macari winemaker Kelly Urbanik Koch shared this image:
Then, about a week ago (in late September/early October), the grapes were loaded up into presses; the magic about to begin. Bedell winemaker Richard Olsen-Harbich shared this video:
“The heat of August and early September really accelerated ripening and the second half of the month and the first week of October cooled down nicely to cruise slowly to the finish line,” says Olsen-Harbich. “All varieties came in with great flavor and perfect acidity. The reds are looking great but we still have a few weeks of ripening time left to get those to where we like them. It’s a quintessential Long Island vintage where we’ll produce our signature style of wines with low alcohol and great balance. We’ll have really elegant, beautiful wines this year. It looks like we dodged a huge bullet with Hurricane Mathew tracking away from the northeast. I think all farmers breathed a collective sigh of relief.”
A collective sigh of relief for farmers means a collective swoon for everyone else. Think drinking wine is a beautiful experience? This mid-press photo by Kelly Urbanik Koch is a pretty persuasive argument that making wine is the real beauty around here:
Also beautiful: the fermentation process. Wow.
Most beautiful, however, is our living in a region where this magic happens every year — in a time when winemakers have the tools to give us a sneak peek into how it actually happens.
Now, for the hard part: waiting for the wine — like the below from Channing Daughters — itself.
Want to see more of #Harvest2016? Here are the local winemakers you need to follow.
Richard Olsen-Harbich, Bedell Cellars
Kelly Urbanik Koch, Macari Vineyards
Roman Roth, Wölffer Estate
Christopher Tracy, Channing Daughters Winery