Food and Drink

Will rain affect the North Fork’s wine grape harvest?

Massoud, Paumanok Vineyard, Aquebogue, Long Island Wine Country
BARBARAELLEN KOCH PHOTO | Paumanok vineyard manager Nabeel Massoud (right), helps crews pick chardonnay for a sparkling wine last Friday.

Though hopes have been high this year for a bone dry grape harvest on the North Fork, the rain did begin to fall this week, resulting in a total of about 2 inches in the 48 hours prior to Wednesday afternoon.

Jason Damianos, owner of Jason’s Vineyard in Jamesport and head winemaker at both Pindar and Duck Walk Vineyards, said the amount of rain is significant, but for now, he doesn’t see it affecting harvest.

“The fact of the matter is [our vineyards] not going to be harvesting for another two weeks,” Mr. Damianos said. “So I‘m hoping things will dry out, that we’ll get another spray in before harvest and that the water taken up into the grapes won’t be a factor.”

Harvesting has already begun of some white grapes, especially those used in sparking wines.

Grapes used to make red wines are picked last.

Kareem Massoud, head winemaker at Paumanok Vineyards in Aquebogue, said though the rain is certainly undesirable for the vineyard, he said if these two days are the worst of the weather, the vintage may not be affected.

“We came into September in very good shape in the vineyard,” Mr. Massoud said. “While we would rather not have these two days of rain, we can certainly weather the storm and emerge in very good shape provided we get some good weather again. It’s unrealistic that we won’t have any rain. Even in a great vintage, there will be a few hiccups along the way.”

Mr. Damianos said berries can burst if they take in too much water while ripe, contributing to rot.

“Imagine a grape vine is a human being,” Mr. Damianos said. “To the vine, the grapes are like its babies. The plant is pregnant and conception occurs as the grape becomes ripe. It wants to release those grapes into the soil and water contributes to the bursting of the grape. It doesn’t bother the grape vine. They’re not making the grapes for us.”

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