Grape lovers and leaf-lookers have a bit more time to enjoy the bounty — if the weather holds
Warm fall weather may have tamed this year’s foliage — fewer reds are popping up compared to past seasons — but expect to enjoy the autumn golds and grapes fresh off the vine a bit longer than usual.
The grape harvest in the Finger Lakes region typically would have wrapped up by now. But the season is lasting between a week and 10 days longer this year, said Tim Martinson, a senior Cornell Cooperative Extension vineyard specialist.
“With moisture pretty good this year, we are seeing larger berries,” added Martinson. He said that while summer produced plenty of sunshine, there wasn’t a lot of really hot weather so extra time on the vine was good for sweetening the fruit.
On Sunday, Mary Jerome was at her Main Street roadside stand in Naples selling grapes from the family’s Jerome’s Fruit Farm on Route 53 just south of the village. Celebrating the farm’s 200th anniversary this year, the Jeromes have plenty of history to draw from and Mary said this season is a good one. In the vineyard behind her, concords still clung to the vine and she had plenty of baskets for sale filled with grapes of red, purple and green. Mary said concords were holding on a little longer this year and that was a good thing, with plenty of demand.
It’s too soon to tell how big the grape harvest will be this year or how this season will go for wine production. There’s always some fluctuation from year to year, but that doesn’t change the bottom line: New York now ranks second, nationally, behind California in the wine industry’s economic impact. According to Wine America, the National Association of American Wineries, New York made gains since Wine America’s last study was released in 2012. Total economic impact increased from $9.4 billion to $13.8 billion, putting New York state at No. 2 nationally. The New York wine industry directly employs as many as 62,450 people, which generates $2.37 billion in annual wages. The study also estimates that wine tourism generates 4.5 million tourist visits and $1.8 billion in annual tourism expenditures.
On the leaf-looking side — with fall foliage bringing tourists who stay overnight, buy food and drink and pay for entertainment — much of the Finger Lakes region was close to peak this past weekend. If the weather holds, this next weekend should be a real beauty. According to the New York Fall Foliage Report, Ithaca was 95 percent to peak last weekend and in areas of the Southern Tier such as Tioga County, reported by spotters in Owego, and in Corning, Steuben County, peak had already arrived.
In Monroe County, leaves along the Canalway Trail area were changing quickly and had reached midpoint. In the greater Rochester area, spotters in Brighton reported 70-75 percent color change last weekend, with foliage there between midpoint and near peak, with subtle shades of light green and yellow along with some red, dark red, russet and orange.
According to the report, we would all do well to head over to Rushville. As of last weekend, color in the village straddling Yates and Ontario counties was just starting. Only some 30 percent of green leaves had turned to red and gold, with much more to go.