Ideal summer weather results in early arrival of grapes for local growers

By August 25, many Concord grapes throughout North East had turned a lovely shade of purple. Niagara grape growers began harvesting their crop already while Concord grapes will be harvested ahead of schedule as well. -photo by Liz Maier

Mother Nature smiled upon the North East grape vineyards this summer.

Hot summer sun mixed with a few scattered showers allowed many of the grapes on local vines to ripen early.

Two to three weeks early to be exact, said Deb Phillips co-owner of Trolley Line Vineyards, Ltd.

“Everything in the garden and on the farm is responding well to the spectacular summer we are experiencing,” said Phillips.

Scott Klenz of Klenz Farms, 9586 Sidehill Road, North East also said his grape crop ripened 10 days ahead of time. 

“We began picking Monday, but don’t usually start picking until September 5th,” said Klenz.

Picking early was a far-fetched thought for growers like Klenz and Phillips when a late frost burned the first buds off many grapes in May. 

“I was worried, but we had very minimal frost damage. About five percent,” said Klenz of his 425- acre farm.

Klenz and Phillips both agreed the warm weather conditions contributed to the success of their crop.

“The hot sun is what ripened the grapes. They need a lot of sunlight. We also got rain at the right time,” Klenz said.

Since the season is over early, Klenz said his grapes will have more sugar solids, resulting in sweeter grape juice and wine.

Phillips was also pleased with the early grape arrival.

“It is definitely better to be ahead of schedule. Sometimes we are in a race with Mother Nature,” said Phillips.

Depending on the type of grape, Phillips said harvesting will begin in the next several weeks.

“Harvesting takes four to six weeks. Different varieties ripen at different rates,” said Phillips.

For instance, mid- September is the average harvesting time for Concord grapes, Phillips said.

“Harvesting will be a steady process,” Phillips said.

A process heaping with benefits for North East growers, wine makers and residents. 

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