The 2014 wine harvest on the East End may not measure up to last year’s spectacular success, but grape growers and vineyard managers say it sure came close.
Dry weather conditions and virtually no humidity throughout the whole harvesting season, which typically runs from late August to around this time in November, made for a larger crop, as well as succulent, ripe grapes. Winemakers and vineyard managers on both the North and South forks said bunches were also larger and more plentiful too, providing a substantial vintage for vineyards to work from when they begin to make wine soon.
Roman Roth, a winemaker and partner at Wölffer Estate Vineyard in Sagaponack, said this year’s harvest was almost as good as last year’s, but it barely missed the mark because this summer was not as warm as 2013. Last summer included several periods of intense heat in July, which accelerated the development of the vines and grapes in time for the harvest to begin in August.
“2013 was the best ever. We almost came close this year,” Mr. Roth said in a phone interview this week. “We almost had a chance to get there.”
Mr. Roth did say that at Wölffer the crop was large enough that the vineyard can pick and choose “only the most desirable grapes” for its wines. The winemaker joked, alluding to this summer’s shortage, that there were, in fact, enough to even make rosé.
Ami Opisso, general manager at Lieb Cellars, which grows its grapes in Cutchogue but has a tasting room on Park Place in East Hampton, had a somewhat different take from Mr. Roth. In an email this week, Ms. Opisso said that while it was too early to comment on wine quality, she was confident that once all of the fruit is in and the ferments are complete, 2014 could be a record-breaking season for that vineyard.
She credited the warm, dry weather conditions for the abundant grape shoots Lieb had, which were 40 percent larger than normal this season.
“Our winery is literally bursting at the seams. We actually had to rent tanks to accommodate all of the grapes,” Ms. Opisso wrote. “It’s been a pretty incredible year in terms of the quality and quantity of fruit we’re bringing in.”
Larry Perrine, a partner and CEO at Channing Daughters Winery in Bridgehampton, said the same thing about his vineyard. The shoots there were 20 percent larger this year than they normally are, yielding about 2.5 clusters of gapes per shoot instead of two.
As for comparing this year’s harvest to 2013’s, Mr. Perrine said the difference came in the fall of that year—there was no rain from the beginning of September until the end of the harvest in November. This fall so far has seen a bit of rain, but it didn’t have a significant effect on the grapes, he said.
“There was a lot of fruit on the plants, and the plants did just fine,” Mr. Roth said. “Every year’s different, even if they’re good years, even in sequence.
“All I know is that it was the largest crop we’ve ever gotten on our vineyard,” he continued. “We’ll have more wine to sell … and that’s good for us over the next three years.”
One fine body…