Saturday, September 15, 2012

NJ Today TV: 2012 a Good Year for New Jersey Grape Growing

Quality Harvest Makes 2012 A Very Good Year for New Jersey Wineries
Posted on September 13, 2012
NJ Today with Mike Scheinder

Landisville grape grower Jim Quarella is always at the mercy of Mother Nature.

“We’re out of control of the weather or anything and we have to deal with what’s given to us and when you can make something good happen with that it’s very rewarding,” he said.

And so far this season, Mother Nature is cooperating creating ideal growing conditions for New Jersey’s grapes.

“This is a very good year for grape harvest in New Jersey,” said Extension Specialist in Pomology at Rutgers University Dan Ward. “We’ve had lots of heat, especially early in the season, which caused the ripening to be early for most fruits including grapes.”

A hot, sunny summer is only part of the recipe for quality grapes. Relatively dry weather conditions in July and average rainfall in August has been crucial to vineyards throughout South Jersey.

“Moderate water stress during grape ripening enhances grape quality,” Ward said.


Quarella explained, “We do not need much water or rainfall for the grape during the growing season because the roots go down so deep.”

Still, the good weather, especially this year’s early spring, came with a price.

“We had early bud break, probably two weeks earlier then normal, then we had a late frost,” Quarella said. “There were many vineyards that really got cooked by the frost and they lost a lot of their crop.”

Fortunately for Quarella, his frost damage wasn’t significant. He grows 20 varieties on Bellview Winery and so far he’s harvested six. The harvest season typically lasts through October.

“We’re really starting to put ourselves on the map,” said Coda Rossa Winery Vineyard Manager Lou Harvey. “We’ve always been the Garden State, but now we are actually known as growing really quality grapes.”

Department of Agriculture Secretary Douglas Fisher explained why New Jersey is a good place for wineries. “For the wine growers we have a certain micro-climate because being between the Delaware Bay and the ocean creates a moderate climate, which creates a great opportunity for growing some fabulous grapes,” he said.

In the late 1990s there were 12 wineries in New Jersey. Now there are 43 licensed wineries in the state.

“New wineries coming in have a lot of experience to draw knowledge from,” Harvey said. “We’re closer together. We definitely work a lot more together.”

Harvey says the state’s wineries are becoming increasingly popular. Business in their tasting room nearly doubled since last year.

At Bellview Winery, Quarella says at this point in the season, he isn’t rushed to harvest the grapes before they reach their ideal maturity, which significantly improves his chances for great wine this season.

Lauren Wanko reports from Landisville.

Watch the video here: