Gallery: Snapshots from the 2011 Harvest in the Finger Lakes, NY

Arrival of the grapes!
Arrival of the grapes!

Chardonnay arriving at Atwater Vineyards. This early harvest fruit retains quite a bit of acidity and will be used in sparkling wine.

Dump in the grapes
Dump in the grapes

We helped get one ton of chardonnay into the press.

Stomp away
Stomp away

Yes, he's wearing clean boots. Stomping the grapes down allows more grapes to fit in the press.

Smashing down the grapes
Smashing down the grapes

Usually, they don't have NYC wine buyers do this job.

Juice begins trickling out
Juice begins trickling out

A ton of grapes doesn't actually make that much juice.

Juice pouring out
Juice pouring out

chardonnay juice really gets flowing.

But let's go back in the vineyard for a minute
But let's go back in the vineyard for a minute

The lake helps protect the grapes from excessive heat and cold. Plus, it's not a bad view.

Young vines
Young vines

These grapes were planted at Thirsty Owl in May. It's awhile to the first harvest: the second year, the vineyard manages will drop the fruit so the vines will concentrate on developing strong root systems, and the 3rd year, only some of the fruit will be allowed to ripen.

Riesling on the vine
Riesling on the vine

Riesling is a local specialty, and Finger Lakes rieslings, such as these at Thirsty Owl, retain a bright pop of acidity.

Serious about riesling
Serious about riesling

My kind of license plate.

Pinot noir on the hang
Pinot noir on the hang

at Sheldrake Point. The cool climate helps Finger Lakes red wines retain food-friendly acidity and low levels of alcohol.

Gewürztraminer at Thirsty Owl
Gewürztraminer at Thirsty Owl

Rosy colored grapes, but they'll be made into white wine.

Dornfelder
Dornfelder

at Fulkerson's vineyards. This grape is also quite popular in Germany.

Measuring total acidity
Measuring total acidity

In order to determine when the grapes are ready to be picked, cellarmasters test total acidity and pH, as well as tasting field samples.

Brix
Brix

Measuring the level of sugar in the grapes--this cabernet was around 20.5, and it likely won't get picked until the end of October, when it reaches closer to 22.

Pouring in the grapes
Pouring in the grapes

Diamond grapes at Thirsty Owl head toward the press.

Pomace
Pomace

The solids that remain after pressing are used in compost (though someone in town is making small batches of grapeseed oil with it!)

Barrel room at Atwater
Barrel room at Atwater

Humidity helps prevent too much evaporation (though they still have to top off the barrels so too much oxygen doesn't reach the wine.)

Bottling line
Bottling line

Atwater bottles most of its wine, but does also do a few wines in kegs for NYC restaurants.

Friendly vineyard cow
Friendly vineyard cow

Your cuteness reward for clicking through the whole slideshow.