I’ve often said that there are no two vintages alike on the East End – but this year truly takes the cake. After more than three decades producing wine on Long Island I thought there was little that could surprise me. What I saw in 2014 proved me wrong.
The year started off like so many others, with cool temperatures and rainy days. It’s something we see every year and its part of our typical North Fork Spring. Yet by early June it was clear something else was happening. It never seemed to warm up and we weren’t getting that much rain.
By July we were in a full-fledged dry spell. The vines loved it and vineyard managers across the Fork were cautiously optimistic as diseases and insects were non-existent. By the end of August we were in a legitimate drought. The sun was constant, but it never got very warm. One day hit 90 degrees F with many evenings dropping into the 60’s and 50’s. Bad winter predictions were already starting to circulate.
One thing however, was plentiful throughout the entire summer – clear, penetrating sunshine. We had weeks of dry and brilliantly sunny days and our vines loved every second of it. Sunlight is the engine of photosynthesis and the combination of strong UV light and drought conditions throughout July and August powered the vines to new levels of ripeness.
Then, Mother Nature turned on the afterburners as September became one of the warmest on record, pushing the fruit across the finish line. Our crop was plentiful and as harvest began, we saw beautiful sugar and acid balance on all our whites and darkly colored, rich reds. As October progressed, a little rain finally arrived but the story of the vintage was already written. We brought in all of our fruit in pristine condition with extraordinary color and flavor. Cooler nighttime temperatures also led to high aromatic tones and low pH levels, ensuring that the wines would remain very healthy in the cellar.
Making wine on the North Fork is like jazz. Every time you play a song, it’s different than the time before. There’s no question in my mind that 2014 will go down as another great vintage for Long Island wines. As I write this, flavors from the fermenting tanks remind me of what I tasted in 2010 – now largely accepted as the best local vintage in history. Our cellar is filled with delicious jewels.
The factors contributing to a great wine vintage are complex but for 2014 one facet is clear – the lack of rainfall and bountiful sunshine produced some of the best wines I’ve ever seen on the North Fork. I think this vintage - the third great North Fork vintage in a row - continues to validate our region as world-class star in American winemaking. The North Fork is truly a wonderful world.