2015 Field Notes

2015 Vintage in the Finger Lakes



2015 Vintage in the Finger Lakes

 The 2015 vintage was a bit warmer (8%) than the long-term average and total rainfall was a bit higher (8%) than average.

 The winter for the 2015 vintage was colder than for the previous year (also a cold winter).  Two cold winters in a row had an impact in the Finger Lakes causing growers to invest more labor in vineyards as vineyard management practices were adjusted to account for injured buds and vines.  The very cold winter also meant that the vines were even more winter hardy than they usually are (assessment based on testing conducted by extension personnel from Cornell University).  As a result, while a number of vineyards did sustain winter injury for a second or third straight year, many vineyards ended up with close to normal crops for the year.

 Spring (April and May) was a lot warmer than average (+43%) due to a very warm May.  The spring was also a bit drier than average (-8%).

 The summer months (June, July, August) were just slightly cooler than average.  A gully-washer June had twice the usual rainfall so vineyardists needed to stay vigilant in dealing with higher disease pressure.  However, the wetter June was followed by a drier July and a much drier August setting a strong stage for the harvest.

 August, September and October - the period of veraison (that came a little earlier than usual), ripening and harvest - was somewhat warmer and drier than average.  A much warmer September (+42%) meant that the heat units for this critical period finished 10% above average.  The dryer August and much drier October (38% less rain) really helped ensure a healthy, ripe crop with typical Finger Lakes freshness.

 The additional heat in May and subsequent weather pushed the harvest to being seven to eight days early.

 The 2015 vintage demonstrated with great clarity the flexibility and adaptability that Finger Lakes winegrowers are practicing in the vineyards to respond to vintage variation.  Overall, the 2015 vintage wines have more definition, freshness and weight than was the case for 2014 (also a strong vintage).

 Our thanks to the Cornell Cooperative extension program for their support in providing information and commentary for the FLWA summary of the 2015 vintage.