Harvest Hoopla Along the Wine Trail

Aug 18, 2015

Harvest Hoopla Along the Wine Trail

by Cassandra Harrington, Executive Director of the Cayuga Lake Wine Trail


Before we know it, autumn will be upon us. It’ll be time for pumpkin spiced everything, sweaters, and of course, harvest. Fall in the Finger Lakes is stunningly beautiful and in most cases, the busiest time of year. Tasting rooms are full with people and off in the distance is the hum of harvesting equipment. The crisp air smells of fruit juice and the sunshine reflects off the lake creating some of the most inviting daytime scenery I have ever seen.

In some years, harvest can begin as soon as the end of August here in the Finger Lakes. The first to be picked are grapes used to make sparkling wine. Since it is fermented twice, it’s best to pick the grapes when they have very little sugar. The longer a grape is left on the vine, the higher the sugar content, or Brix, gets. Next to be harvested are typically Chardonnay and other dry white varietals. Reds are then picked and Riesling is typically the last to be taken from the vines.  Then, typically by about the second week of October, all but ice wines have been harvested and production has already begun.

This round-the-clock work calls for celebrating, so each winery does something to commemorate the successful growing season and to kick off another year of wine production. If you’re considering a trip to the Finger Lakes during harvest season, I promise there will be something going on each and every day in September and October.

I am sure you’ve all heard of a 13-count “baker’s dozen”, but on September 5 and 6, Swedish Hill and Goose Watch Wineries sell by the “Winemaker’s Dozen” during Fall Fever Days. For every case of wine purchases at these sister wineries, you will receive the usual 15% case discount plus a free bottle of wine. I like how winemakers do math.

On the following weekend, September 12 and 13, Hosmer Winery celebrates harvest with their Some Like it Hot event featuringlive music, local cuisine, lawn games and local artisans showcasing their hand-crafted specialties. Thirsty Owl Wine Co. celebrates their 13th anniversary all weekend, hosting the final installment of their 2015 Artist Series and a live band. At Varick Winery, enjoy wine tastings and treats like grape pies, frozen grape pops, grape cookies, grape cheesecake, and more.

Six Mile Creek in Ithaca hosts a Harvest Fest on Saturday and Knapp Winery hosts the Beef, Barrel & Blues Event. At Knapp, listen to live blues music and build your own burger- an 8oz angus grilled burger and choose the cheese and gourmet trimmings yourself.  Pair it with a sampling of the winemaker’s choice in a Knapp glass that you get to keep. 

The following weekend, the harvest festivities continue. On September 19th, Lucas Vineyards holds the 18th Annual German Festival. Get your Lucille Ball on and stomp grapes, enjoy grape pies and German food and compete in the Alphorn and Polka contest. Vie against others with your secret family recipe in the German Potato Salad competition. Bring the entire family for balloon art and be sure to wear your best German attire.

That same evening, Chef John at Knapp Winery showcases his culinary skills in a 5-course Signature Wine Dinner featuring the freshest ingredients paired with a regional selection of wines.

Harvest extends into the next month with Experience the Harvest Crush on October 3 at Cayuga Ridge Estate Winery with demonstrations of harvesting equipment.  Watch grapes being pressed into juice and they even let you sample! The following weekend is Harvest Fest at Treleaven by King Ferry on October 10 and 11.

On October 17th at Goose Watch Winery, sample a variety of foods made from recently harvested, estate chestnuts and compete in lawn games while overlooking the fall foliage on Cayuga Lake. That same evening, Chef John is serving another 5 course meal with local cheeses at Knapp Winery’s Finger Lakes Fromage Wine Dinner.

Perfectly timed with a Saturday Halloween, Americana Vineyards hosts the 12th Annual Hallo-wine Spooktacularfrom 8pm to midnight. Be sure to come in costume; stay tuned for this year’s theme!

As always, catch live music at Six Mile Creek’s Summer Concert Series on Thursdays through September 24 from 7-8:30pm. Americana has live music year-round, rain or shine, on Fridays from 6-8pm and Sundays from 4-6pm. For the month of September, Americana adds live music on Saturday nights as well.

We’re looking forward to the best and biggest Harvest Hoopla yet, here along the Cayuga Lake Wine Trail. Join us! For a full listing of events, visit www.cayugawinetrail.com/events.

Cassandra Harrington is the executive director of the Cayuga Lake Wine Trail. To learn more, visit cayugawinetrail.com.