|Trezise at a wine judging gig.|
I've just received a bullet-point summary of the state wine industry's status from Jim Trezise, who heads the New York Wine & Grape Foundation. The Canandaigua-headquartered organization advocates and lobbies for the state wine and grape interests.
Trezise is, by definition of his job, a cheerleader for the industry, but rarely is reluctant to speak his mind if a negative aspect needs addressing. In this message, he's very upbeat:
Frank Sinatra's classic song "It Was A very Good Year" certainly describes 2012 for the New York wine industry.
While there still are three weeks before we break out the bubbly on New Year's Eve, it's not too soon to celebrate one of the best overall years in recent memory.
• The wine grape harvest was one of the earliest ever, with average quantity and superb quality across virtually all grape varieties and regions.
• New York wines won a record number of top medals in major international competitions, along with rave reviews in major consumer publications.
• 17 new wine producer licenses were issued so far this year, bringing New York's total to 328, with at least nine more still pending.
• "New York Drinks New York" has been an extraordinarily successful promotion of New York wines in New York City.
• The annual "New York Farm Day," hosted by U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand in September, was bigger and better than ever.
• Governor Andrew Cuomo dramatically conveyed his support of the wine industry with a late-October wine, beer and spirits "summit" in Albany.
While Hurricane Sandy had a lot of grape growers and wine makers biting their nails, New York's wine-growing regions suffered virtually no damage, especially compared with the city. Unfortunately, the Concord grape crop in the Lake Erie region -- used for grape juice and which represents about two-thirds of New York's total grape acreage and tonnage, suffered a significant reduction due to a combination of the unusually warm winter followed by a late spring frost. But the wine grapes in that region, and in all others, fared very well in terms of quantity and especially quality.
The warm weather throughout the year, especially in the summer and early fall, resulted in a harvest that was two to three weeks early in most places, minimizing the normal risk of a killing frost in October that could stop the ripening process and the harvest. While many winemakers were challenged by a compressed crush -- with many varieties ripening at once rather than in sequence -- the inconvenience was worth it in the end when they could put up their feet and celebrate with a beer a few weeks early.
The 2012 harvest was similar in many respects to 2010, one of New York's best ever, so we eagerly await the wines as they start being released early next spring.