Wednesday, May 2, 2012


Presentation by Paul E Brock II – FLCC Viticulture professor and owner of Silver Thread Vineyard

Paul Brock has always enjoyed wine making and is fairly new to grape growing as the new owner of Silver Thread Vineyard.  We were especially grateful that he brought three bottles of wine to enjoy!
(Good Earth White, Gewurztraminer, Dry Riesling) Paul explained the turtle on the label as it related to a stone carving found on site in the Bronx Botanical Gardens.  The turtle image was carved in a rock beside one of New York’s woodland creeks by a Native American artist many centuries ago. As an earth symbol to the Iroquois people, the turtle reminds us to care for the land and water that give us the gift of wine.

Paul told us about the Technology Farm  near Geneva.  The FLCC Viticulture and Wine Technology center at the Cornell Agricultural Technology Farm is planned for a 2013 opening.

Paul spoke about
vitis riparia – a native species, hardy to cold;
and       vitis aestivalis – local distribution especially along Rt 89 towards Ithaca and at Ganondagan

1829: Reverand William Bostwick planted the first vineyard in the Finger Lakes in his garden rectory in Hammondsport (Saint James)

1848: Edward McKay plants the first vineyard along Canandaigua Lake

Paul showed photos of Widmar wine tanks in Naples…likely to be turned into a museum.

Similar to apple trees – grafting is done to manage specific grape varieties on strong rootstock. 
Grape vines will live forever.  Younger vines produce more grapes while older vines produce better wine (vines know the soil).

Paul told us about the New York State’s AVA  (American Viticulture Areas)
            Long Island, Hudson Region, Finger Lakes Region, Lake Erie, and Niagara Escarpment,
AVA is listed on a wine label to identify where that wine came from (at least 85%)
Weather has a great influence on grape growing and the lakes with their individual lake effects play a major role.  Hardier grapes do well nearer the lake while sensitive wines come from areas outside of lake effects.  The Finger Lakes AVA has glacial soil.  Soil characteristics can very widely.  As an example there can be 8-10” of soil in one area and 18” just 100 yards away.

Riesling is especially forgiving if you can get it to grow.  Chardonnay is an extremely forgiving variety.

Canada uses windmills due to rather flat growing areas for their grape vines.

Paul talked about how the weather has affected viticulture in the Finger Lakes.
            The spring of 2011 was really wet, followed by a dry summer and then a really wet fall. 
Weather affects the taste of grapes at harvest. 
Factors of location and soil are major contributors.
Leaves orientation to the sun affect photosynthesis, sugaring, and stop/change metabolism.
Grapes have a 1 year reproductive cycle and a 2 year development cycle
2012 has been a year of Water versus Sunlight
            Lodi saw LOTS of rain
            Growing degree days > heat accumulation
            2011 was warmer than normal meaning more fungus
            Warm and wet > fungus
            Paul told us about his Riesling fat white grapes split with juice.
            Vitritus or noble rot      
Because Silver Thread is organically managed they saw only 5-6% rot while traditional spray programs saw 50-60% rot.

Paul showed us tables with critical temperatures for grapes indicating kill percentage for cold temperatures affecting various growth stages.  Generally, bud break is not seen until May 1st.  This year bud break occurred on March 22nd.  The grape growing season is here…time will tell whether it will be the longest or shortest growing season on record.

Paul invites us to please visit the Silver Thread tasting Room along the eastern shore of Seneca Lake  and also encourages us to meet his wife, Shannon, who is a wine instructor at the New York Wine & Culinary Center

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