Wineries along the Cayuga Wine Trail combat the changes in climate

May 02, 2016 No Comments by

by Taylor Zambrano

If he’s out on the wine trail, Ryan Scammon, wine tasting manager at Americana Vineyards who is also in charge of growing grapes and bringing them back to the site, tries to look at the wine and take his time with it — swirling it, sniffing it and savoring the wine. But sometimes he just enjoys casually drinking wine because most of the time, he will have a glass with dinner or while chatting with friends. With that being said, Scammon said the change in climate has brought about new flavor profiles in the wines produced by the local wineries.

“To me, wine has always been communal. It’s always been about friends and family and having dinners and sitting down and talking about the day and conversing and sharing bottles of wine. That’s how I got into wine,” Scammon said.

Americana Vineyards and Treleaven by King Ferry Winery, both part of the Cayuga Lake Wine Trail, are two of the many wineries located along the trail that have been affected by the changes in weather patterns and temperature.

Brian Mulvey, the tasting room manager at Treleaven by King Ferry Winery, said the unpredictable weather patterns are an issue because there were quick snaps between cold and warm weather from the end of March into April He said this type of weather confuses them.

“When it’s warm, they think it’s spring and a lot of them start to bud. And then if it gets cold again, freezing temperatures kills a lot of the grapes. But luckily we didn’t suffer too much loss,” he said.

Stephy Scaglione, a wine room worker at Treleaven by King Ferry Winery, said the winery is taking advantage of these new flavor profiles that are developing as a result of the climate change.

“We’re starting to see a lot more Cabernet Sauvignon coming up — Lembergers, these grapes that were harder and were never considered growing in this region because of how wet it is,” she said. “With better draining techniques and sadly some change of climate during longer growing seasons we can grow a deeper, more full bodied red.”

In addition to a harsh climate change, Scaglione said there was also an influx of invasive bug species attacking their vineyards. She said with climate change, the nematodes are attacking in larger numbers and the root rot is worse.

Scaglione said there are a few different techniques to keep the vines warm earlier in the season, or keep them from getting too cold later on in the season.

“We’ve gone to a lot of geothermic metals actually to keep our roots from freezing, and especially as far as the grapes go, they’re maturing a little faster, so we haven’t necessarily gotten into that with the whites,” she said.

She said most of the small state wineries and vineyards aim for no higher than a 20 percent loss of grapes at the end of the harvesting season.

Scammon said wineries can also look into buying grapes from other places in the state of New York. However, there is only one small problem with outsourcing grapes for wines.

“You could have a complete different flavor profile, and someone is used to our Gewurztraminer, and all of a sudden we produce different grapes from a different site, it’s gonna taste different, and people will notice that,” he said. “That’s not good for business because you like consistency in your wine.”

With outsourcing, however, Scammon also said the winery still has to make sure that 90 percent of the grapes that it is using for its wines come from the state of New York, which is required by law according to the type of winery license that they have.

Locationally, Scammon said the wineries along the Cayuga wine trail, especially those that are much closer to the lake, are also much better off during growing season.

“Lakes are so fantastic to grow near because they tend to create a buffer system weather-wise,” he said. “In the summer they make sure it doesn’t get too hot, and in the winter they make sure it doesn’t get too cold. The closer your grapes are to the lake, the better; the more protection that they have.”

Scaglione said as the warmer weather lingers, the Treleaven by King Ferry Winery is looking to receive more people hanging around longer and less slow winters.

“Market trends are a big thing that drive wines too,” she said. “Depending on how the winters go in the future, I can see us staying open a lot longer.”

Mulvey said Treleaven by King Ferry Winery has been around for about 30 years now, and with that, the people working there have noticed a lot of changes in production and trends.

“Each year changes, and there isn’t an overall plan,” he said. “But they’re kinda rolling with whatever they have, and that’s why wine is so unique, because each year is a different climate and you see how it impacts the wine.”

Agriculture, Business

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