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July 15, 2009


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Your comments about the warmth of the '07 vintage leads to a very important question: how does the weather fair in other "average" vintage years?

With the Finger Lakes always being accused of being too cool in many years to properly ripen many reds, I'm not inclined to think that Niagara is any warmer, if at times just a tiny bit cooler. How would you describe the climate there?

BTW, I think I need to visit at some point!


The 2007 as good as it was, isn't all that exciting to me because I'm always looking for what typically works or doesn't work for a region. So in the case of the FRW pinot, I find the 08 much more exciting.

To answer your climate question, I quote Thomas Lazlo, VP of winemaking at Heron Hill in reference to my question of the difference between growing rielsing in the FL and in the Niagara Region of Ontario.

His response was "It's to warm up there for great riesling. If you can consistently ripen merlot, then you're too warm for riesling."

From what I've learned, the greatest moderating factor in the climate of the FL is actually Lake Ontario. The closer you are to that lake, generally speaking (west of rochester) the longer your growing season.

I've seen some well extracted red wines from 2008 from a few wineries up here, and I don't believe we need years like 2007 to make quality red wines. And when I say this I am only talking about a few serious growers who are respecting lower crop yields.

Hope that answers your question.

Aw, a quote from the infamous Thomas Lazlo (who I would still like to meet)!

Interestingly enough, Syracuse's proximity to the eastern portion of Lake Ontario makes our lives miserable and even snowier than Rochester, but I understand what you are saying about the lake's effect on climate near the western portion.

Re: Thomas Lazlo's quote - can the Niagara region consistently ripen merlot?

I'm wondering the same, Rich. I'm not aware that the Niagara region is consistently getting ripe Merlot, but I plead ignorance.

I'm not sure any L.I. winemakers would start buying merlot grapes from the region any time soon. There's a night and day difference from the extended growing season of L.I. in terms of brix levels.

The Niagara region is diverse. Pinot Noir is more often planted on the cooler higher elevation slopes furthest from Lake Ontario here. You will find merlot planted ideally 1-2 miles from the lake on more flat to rolling sites where it benefits from over 220 frost free days.

I do quote Thomas because he has worked in both the Niagara, ON region and the FL.

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