LI vineyard owners optimistic about start of harvest season

Cooler weather might keep Long Island wine grapes

Cooler weather might keep Long Island wine grapes on the vine a bit longer this season, but that won't slow a harvest season of tastings, tours, gourmet food and music. Here, Long Island wines are sold at the Hampton Bays Wines & Spirits. Photo Credit: David Reich-Hale

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Cooler weather might keep Long Island wine grapes on the vine a bit longer this season, but that won't slow a harvest season of tastings, tours, gourmet food and music.

Vineyard owners say this summer's cooler weather might lengthen the harvest by a week or so because fruit takes longer to ripen on the vine when the thermometer keeps below 90 degrees. But owners also say this year's dryer weather has kept fungus and other problems at bay, potentially leading to higher grape yields.

"The pattern right now is ideal," said Ron Goerler, owner of Jamesport Vineyards and chair of the industry's annual Harvest East End Wine & Food Classic event, which was held Aug. 23. "It's just going to take a little longer."

Harvesting begins in earnest in mid- to late September and continues through November.

Meanwhile, wineries are hosting musicians and offering gourmet food, vineyard tours and comedy to draw oenophiles to tasting rooms as the harvest season begins. A full listing of events can be found at nwsdy.li/liwine.

Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo helped kick off the season on the North Fork last weekend at the annual Harvest Fest, where he celebrated a thriving state market for wines, beer and distilled alcohol.

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"It's an investment that is paying off," Cuomo said, noting the thousands of jobs in Long Island's wine industry alone.

The number of state farm businesses making wine, beer, spirits and cider from New York-grown products has increased by more than 100 percent since 2011, Cuomo said. He also announced a series of promotional initiatives when he was on the North Fork, including a new ad campaign, to boost the industry.

Wineries alone have grown 50 percent since 2011 to 291 across the state. In that same period, Long Island became home to 14 new farm wineries, six wineries, 11 farm winery branch offices, nine farm brewers, six microbrewers and two distillers, according to information provided by Cuomo's office.

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