Celebrate Harvest in the Finger Lakes

I love October in Upstate New York: the changing color of the leaves, the shift from flip flops to boots, spending the weekends watching football, and yes, the return of pumpkin and pumpkin spice flavored everything. My partner and I met, married, and will be having our first child in October. It’s a magical month.

For wineries, October is a busy month of harvesting, pressing, and fermenting the new wines. Winemakers are making tough decisions about when to pick grapes and how to use them, their staff are busily sorting through the grapes to get the best of the best, and the wine trails are packed with people who are out enjoying the changing color of the leaves.

The downside of touring the wine trails in this season is that you don’t get the same kind of one on one attention from the staff that you may get in other seasons- they are a little preoccupied with harvest. That being said, there are some unique experiences you can only get in this season!

Experience the Harvest with Women for Winesense

Want to get your hands dirty? Each year, the Women for Winesense Finger Lakes Chapter does a harvest experience where participants get a feel for what it is like, from picking grapes in the field, analyzing them in the lab, and aging them in the cellar. It’s a hands-on look behind the scenes.

What I love about the Women for Winesense meetings is that it’s a mixed group of people with varying levels of experience in wineries; you may meet a winemaker or tasting room manager or just other amazing people who love wine and live in our area! And no, it isn’t just for women- everyone is welcome to come to the meetings.

You can learn more about the event on their Facebook page and website.

Watch Harvest Happen from the Tasting Room

Maybe you’re not in the mood to get your hands dirty… maybe you’d rather sip a nice glass of wine while watching what happens in the vineyards and cellars.

Want to watch harvest? There’s a few wineries with great views of their vineyards from their tasting rooms. Atwater Vineyards has an amazing deck that overlooks their vineyards. It’s the perfect place to do a tasting and watch the harvest happen. Heron Hill on Keuka Lake is also in a great spot overlooking the vineyards. If you’re looking for a little food while you’re watching the harvest, head over to Bully Hill Vineyards. Their restaurant has a great deck that overlooks the vineyard.

Want to watch them sorting the grapes instead? Hermann J. Wiemer‘s tasting room overlooks their pad where they go through the grapes after harvest. It’s fun to be able to watch them do their sorting magic while enjoying a nice glass of sparkling wine. Similarly, at Forge Cellars, the tasting space is right in the middle of the winery, giving you a closeup look at the work in progress.

Want to tour the vineyards? Standing Stone Vineyards offers tours of their vineyard and production facilities, along with some small bites and a wine flight. Dr. Konstantin Frank’s 1886 Room also offers a similar experience, with their October theme taking you into their cellar to learn about oak and how it changes wine. Both options are a fun way to explore a little and go behind the scenes.

Make Your Own Wine

This may seem a little ambitious, but if you’re up for the challenge, there are a few different ways to try your hand at making wine.

On the beginner level, Glenora Wine Cellars does an event every year where they invite people to dosage their own sparkling wine. Dosage is the yeast and sugar mix that you add to sparkling wine when it is corked, and this determines how sweet it is going to be. It’s a fun way to learn about the process, get a little involved. There are limited spots, so grab yours now by heading to their website.

Want to take it to the next level? You can buy grapes from Fulkerson Winery and try your hand at making a wine from grape juice. Just select the grape you want and you’re good to go! You’ll need some equipment, like a couple carboys for fermentation, air lock, bottles, and corks, but you can purchase these at a local home brew shop or at the winery, and they do have starter kits where you can get everything at one time.

Do you have a favorite harvest experience that I’ve missed? Share it in the comments and I’dd add it!


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