By Elena Galey-Pride
Seasons in the Vineyard is a Wines In Niagara photo essay series by local photographer Elena Galey-Pride.
Elena spends a great deal of her time documenting the circle of life in the vineyard — from new beginnings in spring, the season of hope, then moving into summer, where warmth and gentle rains give life to the vines, to fall, when plump ripe grapes are harvested to make delicious wines, to winter, the dangerous season when vines are dormant and it’s a fight for survival out there. We are documenting the four seasons in the vineyard with this series.
In our third part of the series, Autumn in the Vineyard, Elena takes us through the most crucial season for grapes when wineries around Niagara begin the long process of harvesting grapes to turn them into wine.
In late August (some years) and early September the first grapes to be picked are for sparkling wines with the table wine grapes following in a mad progression until icewine grapes are picked typically in the dead of winter. This year, however, was no ordinary year as you will see in Elena’s photos — some icewine grapes were picked in mid-November before the rest of the red grapes were even harvested.
The fall harvest of 2019 will go down in history as one of the wildest on record. Heading into harvest, the weather was generally cool and sunny. This cool weather, combined with low humidity and sunshine provided a boost for grapes in terms of phenolic ripeness and prevented breakdown of fruit allowing an extended period for grapes to fully ripen.
October was mild but damp, followed by an unusually early cold snap in mid-November. Most white varieties were harvested early but harvest extended into early December, sometimes taking place in the snow. With the early cold, several wineries harvested icewine grapes on Nov. 12 – the earliest date recorded by VQA Ontario.
Seasons in the Vineyard: Autumn
All photos are copyright by Elena and cannot used without permission at winestains. They are posted here in chronological order.