The sky is overcast over the vineyards of Glenora and along the shores of Seneca on this the last Sunday morning of September 2019. The temperature is 56 degrees but feels a bit cooler as the wind is coming from the north at 7 miles per hour. While the forecast for the beginning of the upcoming week looks great -warm and dry- it appears that will change by week's end-cold and wet!
In the vineyards: Another great weather week for ripening and harvesting. There were a few showers, heavier in some locations, but not enough to stop the harvest. Not at all like last year when as the ole farmer would say-"we are mudding it" to get through the vineyards. For the Knapp harvest team, it was Vignoles at Knapp and Varick. At CLR, the Club Seneca Pinot Blanc were harvested, along with Sauvignon Blanc and Pinot Noir. Although the CLR team has more Pinot Noir to harvest, it appears that it is going to be the largest Pinot Noir crop to date there. The Knapp Team also did some custom harvesting-Valvin Muscat, Pinot Gris, and Chardonnay.
On the press Decks: At Glenora the team saw Chardonnay, Pinot Gris, Pinot Blanc, Sauvignon Blanc and Vignoles arriving at the press deck. The CLR team brought in Chardonnay and Pinot Noir.
Press deck creativity or the Ol' Farmers creativity in action: Late in the week the vacuum pump on the larger press at Glenora decided to retire (quit). The pump is critical as it pulls the air away from the bladder that is used to press the grapes. This is done by the pump creating a vacuum (suction) on what was the pressure side of the bladder. Without being able to relieve the pressure, the press is useless (could the press be human?). Since vacuum pumps that fist the press are not something one finds at the general store it needed to be special ordered -days, possible weeks. This is where the genius of ol' farmer who has fixed many things with baling wire comes in. We needed to create a vacuum-how does our shop vacuum cleaner work - by creating a vacuum to pull in the dirt!! So with a little baling wire (or in this case duct tape) the shop vacuum was hooked to the press and we were back in operation!!
While the weather over the past 2-3 weeks has been great for ripening the grapes we, or the grapes, still have a ways to go as the brix levels are lower than we would like and the acid and pH are not at the levels we would like to see. Looking at the longer range forecast it appears Mother Nature is about to enter her fall temperature mode as later this coming week the temperature highs are forecast to be in the 60's and the night temperatures in the mid to lower 40;s. Those temperatures will slow down ripening. If there is any positive to the lower temperatures they will slow down the fruit flies who like to attack grapes when their sugar content gets above 15 degrees Brix.
There are other things happening besides harvest. This weekend and into next week both CLR and Glenora are taking part in the New York Wine and Grape Foundation's "NY Drinks NY program. This is a program where wine industry people - retailers, restaurants and influencers, mostly from the New York City area - visit the Finger Lakes Wine Region to learn more about the industry. They will be visiting the wineries to get hands-on experiences - we are told they want to get their "hands dirty". We certainly look forward to satisfying those wishes for them. The experience of getting a blister on your hand and the getting grape juice in or on it will be something they will always remember. We aim to please!! Steve, Rachel, Peter and Tim will be representing us at several of the events. Shawn and Wally are in charge of the "dirty hands" adventures.
If you visit the Glenora retail shop you will, or should, notice that we have a new flat screen TV there. The TV is "hooked" to a camera that can be moved about to show various activities taking place at winery. Currently the camera is focused on the press deck which allows visitors to observe activities there. Later in the year we may place the camera in the bottling room so that visitors can see/watch the bottling operations. It has been decided that we will not include audio at this time!
It has been and is another wedding event weekend at Glenora. A rehearsal dinner on Friday evening - not sure why it is named that as it should be named the "dinner after the rehearsal; they are not rehearsing the dinner. In any event, a wedding and reception yesterday and a wedding celebration breakfast this morning!
Thought for the week: Mistakes
"A life where mistakes are made is not only more honorable, but more useful than a life spent doing nothing."
The sky over the vineyards of Glenora and the shores of Seneca is mostly clear as we celebrate Hobbit day and mark the first day to Tolkien Week. The temperature is a relatively mild for this time of year, 65 degrees, almost 80 degrees later today. The wind is coming from the south southwest at 6 miles per hour. Lake temperatures: Keuka-69 degrees; Seneca-67.5 degrees.
In the vineyards: The weather has to be part of the story this week, as it has been almost "picture perfect" almost all week long with lots of sun and warmer temperatures. Both of these are great for ripening the grapes, as up to this point ripening has been a bit behind "normal". The Knapp vineyard team harvested Seyval and Baco this past week. Plans are to harvest Cayuga on Monday and then Vignoles on Thursday and Friday with some custom harvesting taking place in between.
On the press deck: The Glenora press deck team had Pinot Noir (for sparkling wine), Seyval and Cayuga arriving at their press deck. Another non-grape arrival was the new chiller and cooling tower that will soon be installed. Our old chiller and cooling tower were first installed in the mid-80's making them over 30 years old and like most things today, parts are no longer available. In addition, we have added several jacketed tanks (for controlling the temperature or the wine) over the years which the system was not really designed for. In the pre chiller and pre jacketed tank days -1977 to 1987- we attempted to cool the wine in the tanks by running water over them-cold water running from the top of the tank down the side. This was not the most efficient way to cool the wine and it put a strain on our water and waste disposal systems -aah, the good ole days!
The CLR press deck team (Tim and Wally) started their season this past week as well as they brought in Baco on Thursday and Friday!
This coming week will be busy for both the harvest team (the harvester) and the press deck team as we will have harvesting taking place every day, and the press deck will be busy those days as well -the season is here! Everyone is welcome to come and observe.
On Wednesday evening Chef John and his team conducted an off-site catering event as part of the Seneca County Chamber of Commerce's Business After Hours program. The event was special as it marked the opening of the newly updated marina at Sampson State Park. There were over 100 people in attendance - Knapp's wines were part of the festivities as well. There were lots of very positive comments regarding the food, the service and the wine. Perhaps we should consider a Catering/Food truck!!
On Thursday afternoon, the Chateau LaFayette Reneau Team hosted their new wine distributor Empire North. This is the first time that CLR has had a distributor since its inception in 1985. The benefits will be a much larger sales team in the field and a much broader range of distribution. Peter, who has been single handedly overseeing that responsibility (with a little help from the team at CLR) will work with the Empire folks during the transition.
Last weekend's Leaves and Lobster event was a very successful event for us. Accounting Manager Tracey D. reported that wine sales were the most that had ever been recorded! Another note about Leaves and Lobsters, and for that matter our Jazz Greats at Glenora concert series as well. These events are all organized, managed, and conducted by the teams at Glenora (well the Boy Scouts help with parking). The point here is that these event happen because the teams at Glenora that have full time responsibilities during the week put in the extra efforts on nights and weekends to make the events possible. This often times means 60-70 hour weeks which sometimes are 12-14 days in length. Glenora has a great team and they are very much appreciated. There is not a single department that does not contribute in some manner.
Windmill report, otherwise known as "The Mill": The team there keeps on rolling -to date their sales are up 34% over last year-and we get lots of positive reports from customers at "The Mill" as well as compliments from the management there. Thank you ladies!
Thought for the week: "Dragons"
"It does not do to leave a live dragon out of your calculations, if you live near him." JRR Tolkien
The sky is clear over the vineyards of Glenora and the shores of Seneca. The temperature is a crisp 55 degrees with the wind coming from the south-southwest at 4 miles per hour. The forecast today looks fine for day two of Leaves & Lobsters-sunny with temperatures reaching into the 70's. Lake temperatures: Seneca-67.7 degrees; Keuka-71 degrees-the temperature decline continues.
In the vineyards: Harvest officially started at Varick and Knapp this past Wednesday morning. The crew now consists of 2 members who have worked on it before, one who has had lots of harvest experience but not on the Knapp team, and 2 who are new to the team. While we do not regularly operate with a five-person team we did start that way on Wednesday so that everyone could get experience. Chaz, the vineyard manager at Knapp, has taken over the role of harvester operator. The first day went well although we did have one hydraulic hose that decided it was time to quit. This gave the team the opportunity to demonstrate their mechanical skills, which they did, and the machine was soon up and running. By early afternoon the seedless grapes at Varick and the Siegerrebe at Knapp were "in the bin". At this point our schedule for next week has us harvesting Baco and Seyval.
On Thursday, the press deck team at Glenora sprang into action pressing the Seedless and Siegerrebe. A smooth start for the team with all of the equipment operating as it should. There was one new additional-a new forklift! The "old forklift" was more than beginning to show its age (35 years). While the old lift is still operating we have been told for quite some time that parts are no longer available unless we wanted to dig through the forklift graveyard. So, the decision was made to "add some "new paint" (an ole farmers term for new equipment).
The cellar team was visited by the New York State Agriculture and Markets inspector this past week. Although we know the visit is coming we never know when. Production Manager Tracey was very pleased to report that that the winemaking and cellar teams both received an A+ rating. Since we are considered a food manufacturing plant the inspection is quite detailed and at times is somewhat subjective depending on the inspector - one time we received a demerit with the comment "there was a large furry animal on the crush pad that appeared to be a dog" - it was a dog. Another great one was the inspector who wanted the area over the press deck to be covered because of birds (I am sure you get the idea)-however, remember the grapes that were inside the equipment on the crush pad had been out in an uncovered vineyard a few hours before-anyway.
More cellar news: On Friday the production team put what will be our 2018 Blanc de Blanc into tirage. This is a somewhat complicated project - too long to explain here. However, if you visit Steve and Rachel they will be glad to give you many more details-if you go be sure to pack a lunch. The wine will be available for purchase in 2023-2024.
Chef Orlando and the Kitchen and Restaurant teams will be rolling out their Fall menus on September 25th -48 hours after the start of Fall. Midweek is always the best time to roll out new menus!!
Leaves and Lobsters: While we still have a few unclaimed Lobsters (meaning we can still accept walk-ins) the 2019 event is or will be another successful event. Even Mother Nature, for the most part, was cooperative. We are often asked, "how many years have you been doing this"? Our records seem to be a bit vague in that area-we do recall one year when there was wet snow-so the start of the event must have been before global warming started!
Retail Shop Manager Rachel and the editor attended the Seneca Lake Wine Trail meeting on Tuesday. During the meeting we were presented the results of a comprehensive survey that was targeted at learning more about customers who visit the trail during wine trail sponsored events. It was somewhat eye-opening in that sometime trail members feel the events are too big, and as a result people do not enjoy the events; the survey indicated the opposite, as people seem to enjoy the excitement. It's sort of like going to a dance in a large room with only six couples being there as compared to one in the same room with fifty couples.
Another lesson: the word "experience" used one way, eg: "I had a great experience at the State Fair" , is different than the Wine and Cheese tasting experience (meaning educational/informative) at XYZ winery was not worth the money. Or simply put - offering "experiences" is not the same as having a good time (experience).
Thought for the Week: Talk vs. Action
"It is easy to sit up and take notice, What is difficult is getting up and taking action."
The sky is cloudy over the vineyards of Glenora and the shores of Seneca on this the second Sunday of September (it is going fast). The temperature is 58 degrees with the wind coming from the west at 4 miles per hour. Lake temperatures: Keuka-73 degrees: Seneca-71.2 degrees. There is lake fog rising from Seneca almost every morning - another sign of pending Fall.
In the vineyards: The date has been set as plans have been made to start harvest at Knapp this coming Wednesday, September 11th! Plans are to harvest the seedless grapes that will be used for distilling - eventually becoming either brandy, Limoncello, Limeoncello, Cucumber Vodka, or Lavender infused Gin - all Knapp products. We do use a bit of it to fortify our Port at both Knapp and Glenora. The other grape that will be harvested will be the Siegerrebe thus depriving the birds of their daily ration of grapes. The first day of harvest is always exciting as it marks the beginning of the culmination of a year's work in the vineyard and the start of a year, or longer, of work in the winery. Another part of the excitement this year is that for Knapp Vineyard Manager Chaz will be his first year atop (operating) the harvester. He has been doing lots of "road tests," but the first trip down a row of grapes is always exciting.
Winemakers Steve and Rachel are checking different blocks of grapes on an almost daily basis. Rachel has her planned visits listed on our company Google calendar so everyone can see what she are Steve are up to as far as vineyard sampling. Perhaps we could put a GPS chip on them and then we could really track them - no more stops at "Big Johnsons" or if there is they will be documented!!
Friday was a very busy day at all three wineries as we hosted events at all the wineries in conjunction with the Watkins Glen Grand Prix Festival, which is part of the United States Grand Prix Festival (one of the largest vintage car festivals in the United States). Glenora hosted the 26th running of the famous Glenora Run (limited to vehicles manufactured before 1986). Glenora's Maintenance Engineer Joel took part in this as he was the navigator for one of the entries. Knapp hosted the Sporting Roadsters Rally, and CLR hosted two groups who were part of the Founders Tour- open to all vehicles but a preference given to smaller vehicles. The events are always exciting - lots of interesting cars, lots of interesting people, and lots of cooperation from Mother Nature this year. We have been producing a special labeled wine for these events since the inception of the Grand Prix Festival 26 years ago. On Saturday morning Joe Serphillips, Glenora wine presenter extraordinaire, brought in a bottle (empty of course) that was sporting a label celebrating/noting the 46th Anniversary of the first running of the US Grand Prix -the first running taking place on October 2nd 1948. The label celebrates the 46th running of the event-the year 1994 which was the second year of the Watkins Grand Prix Festival-lots of numbers and history. If you would like to see the cars that left Glenora on Friday check on the Glenora Facebook page as marketing director Heather posted a live feed on the page - it will give you an idea of the event and the cars.
This coming week is National Housekeepers Week. The Glenora Housekeeping Team is an exceptional group of ladies. Unlike many of the various team members at Glenora, they generally are almost invisible (even their office is hidden) as they travel up and down the halls of the Inn spending lots of time cleaning in the rooms - but the results of their efforts is very visible. Thank you, ladies!
It has been a wedding weekend at both Knapp and Glenora. Chef John and his team at Knapp's Vineyard Restaurant hosted two (yes two) rehearsal dinners on Friday evening and then a wedding and reception yesterday. At Glenora, it was a wedding and a reception on Saturday, and today the Glenora team will be hosting a group of 50 AAA members from southern New Jersey.
Chef Orlando has placed the Lobster Order - 750. However, we can order more (and most likely will) as ticket sales for Leaves and Lobsters are coming in at a steady pace. He also tells us that the clams that will be served are "free-range clams" as compared to "farm-raised clams". The free-range clams apparently taste better and live longer. Perhaps we could have a clam tasting (similar to a wine tasting). Are there clam bloggers, clam writers, clam critics? If not there are a plethora of all those types that are self-appointed wine experts - perhaps they could learn a new trade.
Thought for the week: Education
"The aim of education is the knowledge not of facts but of values." (Hopefully)
It is a cloudy morning over the vineyards of Glenora and along the shores of Seneca on this the first Sunday of September (there are five Sundays in September this year). The temperature is 56 degrees with the wind coming from the south southeast at 4 miles per hour.
Lake temperatures: the temperature decline has started - Keuka-73 degrees; Seneca-72 degrees. There was lots of lake fog rising from Seneca earlier this week-a result of the no wind, lake temperature being 73 degrees at that time, while the air temperature was 58 degrees. The effect makes for some great photos!
In the vineyard: One of the sounds of the upcoming harvest season is resonating throughout many Finger Lakes Vineyards-the "booming" of bird control cannons. The cannons do not blow birds out of the air (we have other devices for that), but the cannons create lots of noise that is intended to scare the birds - the keyword being intended! There was lots of news in the last issue of the year of the Finger Lakes Grape Program's Finger Lakes Vineyard Update. While it was the last for the season, the program will be sending their Veraison to Harvest newsletter next week. The hot topics, or interesting articles, included a listing of prices that will be paid by of the Finger Lakes wineries (15 submitted information). Our wineries accounted for 20% of the submissions. In general there is very little price variation between the wineries, if there is a difference is usually a result of the focus of a particular winery puts on a certain grape variety. The prices ranged from a low of $230 per ton for Concord to a high of $1825 per ton for Sangiovese. The average price per ton for Concord was $295 and the average price per ton for Sangiovese was $1825. Other interesting articles included more information on fruit fly eradication, and the fact the all employees need to have received their Sexual Harassment training by October 9th - George Orwell is the enforcement officer!!
The vineyard teams gathered on Wednesday to review and finalize harvest plans. The equipment is ready, the bins are ready, the trucker is ready - if there is anything lacking, it is help (finding help has been a challenge all year). It is going to take a lot of coordination to accomplish harvest this year!
On Tuesday, the members of the GOB (Good Ole Boys) gathered for their quarterly (more of less-mostly less) luncheon. In order to qualify for membership, one has to have had involvement in the grape/wine industry since the 1960's. If one wants to know the history of the industry, from those who have actually experienced it, not heard about it or read about it, the GOB club is the place to go. What we have learned over the years is that often times fiction when repeated enough seems to become fact!
Also this past Tuesday, there was a tasting of several vintages of sparkling wine which was held at Veraisons. We will be posting more information on the event and the results of the tasting as soon as they are compiled. The vintages tasted ranged from 1986 through 1998-what were you doing during the 1986 harvest/vintage?
Speaking of history: on Friday afternoon we gathered to celebration Cellar Master Shawn Andrews' 25th year at Glenora. It was interesting, and a bit eye-opening to listen to Shawn tells us about his experiences over his 25 years. The production/winemaking/cellar team at Glenora has many years of experience - Production Manager Tracey Miller has been on the team for 28 years, Sean with 25 years and Winemaker Steve DiFrancesco 24 years. Lots of experience, history, and stories!
While most are celebrating the Labor Day weekend there will be, or have been, two wedding celebrations at Glenora this weekend as well - one yesterday and another today. An August bride and a September bride - both during the same weekend!
If you are a fan or cars, racing, and history you should be in Watkins Glen next Friday, Saturday and Sunday as 26th Annual Grand Prix Festival will be taking place there. As well we, Glenora, Knapp and Chateau LaFayette Reneau will be hosting over 480 cars and 960 drivers and passenges at the various winery locations on Friday morning and midday. Every one is welcome to come to the wineries to see tha cars and to chat with the owners. If you are a Gearhead, Track Rat, or a car Fan(atic), these will be the places to be! Our thanks go out to Watkins Glen Promotions, the sponsors and the over 100 volunteers who make this happen.
Thought for the week: Destiny
We are not permitted to choose the frame of our destiny. But what we put into it is ours."