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Winter in Wine Country

As most of you also experienced, we got our first winter storm quite early this year.On the night of November 15th, vineyards received anywhere from 6 to 12 inches of snow, depending on their location. This snow gives the vineyard team some mixed feelings. At this point in the year, it provides insulation for the soil to keep it from freezing. On the other hand, the soil not freezing at this time of year makes it difficult to bring equipment into the vineyards to finish hilling up and trellis work. (Hilling up is when dirt is gathered around the base of the vine to provide further insulation.)

Soon, bud gathering will commence. The vineyard teams gather buds to check for damage. Though it’s too early to see any winter damage from the cold, they’d be checking to see how they “came through” the summer and fall seasons. Pruning begins soon with the most cold-hardy grapes, such as Catawba, then moving to varieties like Cayuga and Seyval Blanc, saving the most cold sensitive for last, like Chardonnay, Riesling, and Cabernet Franc. Those varieties are pruned soon after the extreme winter temperatures have passed.

The Cayuga Lake Wine Trail is open year-round, though some wineries cut their hours back to accommodate the slower traffic season. This is dubbed as the “off-season,” and here in the office, we also call it “event season.” Our last event of the year, Holiday Shopping Spree, is also the start of all our event prep, with Mardi Gras to follow in February, Bacon on the Lakein in March, and the Wine & Herb Festival in April and May. While the wineries wind down from a busy summer, our office kicks it into high gear. Stay tuned for some new, fun stuff coming from us in 2019!

The off-season doesn’t mean the wineries are sitting with idle hands! Behind the scenes, many are already starting their prep for the coming summer; creating events, booking musicians, and figuring out how to give you their best experience. Speaking of best experiences, did you know that winter is the best time to visit a winery? It is, for many reasons! For starters, the wineries aren’t as busy so it’s less crowded and the staff is able to focus more on you. And since it’s a slower season, the winter staff likely consists of the winemakers and owners. How truly awesome would it be to get a tasting from the person who made the wine? Oh, the knowledge they’d give you!

All in all, winter isn’t so bad. Many wineries offer mulled wines to warm you up, and the slower-paced tasting room offers you a chance to truly learn about the wine you’re sipping. Though I can’t speak for everyone, but the more I’ve learned about the wine

making process, the more I’ve come to enjoy the wine I’m sipping. So bundle up and come visit us this winter!

Katherine Chase