By Lisa Adams
NORTH EAST, Pa. (Erie News Now) – When you think of North East, PA, the images that came to mind are acre upon acre of lush grape vineyards –the dark green foliage nurturing the native Concord grapes on the vines.
From the timing of this season’s early buds and flowers, to day after day of hot, dry weather and mild Lake Erie breezes, area grape growers and wine makers tell us that it will all make for a very healthy grape harvest.
We visited the 5 acres of Concords at Lakeview Wine Cellars, where grower and wine maker Same Best showed us just how his bunches of grapes are burgeoning. “Wow this growing season has been great,” Best said. “We got an early bud break, we had an early bloom and everything went perfectly, we didn’t have rain during the bloom so it wasn’t knocking the little pistils off of the grapes so we had a good fruit set we probably have 30 – 40 tons of grapes hanging on the vines now, usually we shoot for between 30 and 35 and we’ve exceeded that this year.”
Best says his crop should be reading for picking about a month from from now in late September, when testing shows that the sugar level, or degrees of brix as they say, is just right. “We’re probably about 30 days away, if we keep getting the nice warm days and the cooler nights, that brings the sugar up in the grape vines and the grapes have a tendency to ripen a little nicer and more full.”
Some wine grape growers did water this season for a better crop, but Best says the old vines have deep roots, 5 to 15 feet into the ground reaching near the water table, so they didn’t need the help. “Some places irrigate some of the more viniferous, they irrigate those to bring better crops, we don’t have to do that so much with Concords, Niagaras — native Americans — the roots are a little deeper, they absorb more water, and we’ve had the right amount of rain at the right time for our crops.”