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Early Bud Break Means an Early Harvest for Vintners

The vines are starting to bloom and local winemakers are feeling the pressure to prepare early for a fast harvest.

With only about 6 inches of rainfall in January, February and March combined, plenty of sunshine and a very warm and dry ground, local vintners are experiencing an early bud break, similar to those in 2010 and 2007.

To Richard Olsen-Harbich, winemaker at in Cutchogue, getting an early start to the season is always a good thing.

“It gives us more time during the summer for the grapes to ripen and take advantage of warm sunny days, and it also gives the fruit more time to mature before the cooler temperatures and unpredictable weather of late October and early November rolls in,” he said.

winemaker Ron Goerler said that though an early bud break means feeling more pressure to get everything ready for the season, he’ll take this spring over last year’s wet and cold spring.

“Early bud break forces you to move faster in a good direction,” he said. “Let’s face it — our planet is warming. We’re now in a drying pattern and have to be conscious of the different cycles here, to be more vigilant about insects and diseases and the like.”

Olsen-Harbich said that many of Bedell’s older vines — some of the oldest in Long Island Wine Country — are much slower to break than younger vines as their roots systems are much deeper. But with bud break happening now on younger vines, the winemaker said he expects an excellent 2012 vintage.

“The last year that had a similar start was in 2010, which was one of the best vintages ever — so for now, we are feeling really positive about the season and have high hopes for a great year,” he said.

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